Vendetta Online News

All of it, baby.
Hey everyone, we're right in the middle of some major development that is making visible updates a little fewer and further between, so I wanted to explain a little about what's going on.

But first and foremost, please consider stopping by for the developer-run Grayspace Race event on Saturday! We expect it to be a lot of fun, and a step towards the return of classic recurrent race events like the Deneb Run. See the in-game Event system for schedule details and other information.

Beyond this, we have a lot of different development going on, most of which I'm not going to announce right now. But one thing you will start to see in the immediate future, is the availability of micro-transactional purchases on certain mobile devices. Keep in mind that premium subscribers will still get everything, across all platforms, without any need for these types of optional purchases. Micro-transactions will be exclusively for players coming in on Lite accounts, allowing them to push a bit beyond the current level 3 cap.

The exact mechanics and structure of the micro-transactional system are still experimental, and will require refinement and continued feedback from the userbase. But, it has become evident that some kind of hybrid "free to play" model is an expected necessity on mobile, so we're working to adapt to these markets and bring in additional players.

We also have a lot of game-related development in process, which will be revealed in future newsposts as we get a bit closer to each related release. But overall, our goal for "VO 2.0" is about enhancing and drastically expanding the game in many different ways that will mesh together, including the business model and other areas. So, please bear with us while we evolve and improve these aspects, even when don't have the most exciting immediate gameplay impact.

At the same time, please do show up for the Race Event! Have a great weekend, everyone.
Vendetta Online 1.8.293 released, plus Upcoming Events! This weekend there will be a Nation War along with a scheduled, developer-run Capture The Flag event! See the in-game Event list, or the main site for times and more information.

Tonight's release includes:

- CTC cargo gets auto-jettisoned when the capship owner leaves their capship and they have CTC cargo.
- Ship buy-back/buy-preset no longer swaps empty weapons in storage with newly purchased weapons when they are auto-equipped.

Much larger development remains in the works and will be debuting over the next couple of weeks. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Help us stress-test the new server code this evening (Saturday), during the in-game event "Hostile Fleet Looming". Prizes for those who prove the most adept at fighting off the attackers. See the in-game Event system for schedule specifics and other information.

We hope to see you there!
VO 1.8.291-292 included:

- Left and Right thumb buttons of the DualShock 4 controller on
Android have been fixed to report as their proper buttons.
- Reduced network traffic for cases where the player is being damaged
with multiple weapons at the same time.
- Fixed issue with Outer Hull Plate name.
- Improved high resolution asteroid LOD popping artifacts.
- Added guild member login/out notifications.
- Fixed problem when capship owner launches from their capship directly
from controlling a turret.
- All sectors are now running the new sector code.

The new assets have been integrated a bit better on the PC, and we've made quite a few improvements to battle situations involving large numbers of players. The entire galaxy is now running the new optimized sector architecture.
VO 1.8.290 includes:

- Replaced some asteroid chunks with higher resolution models and textures for the Win/Mac/Linux versions. Mobile versions still use the older assets.
- Added support for Oculus Rift HD.
- Oculus Rift is no longer required to be in mirror display mode. It should now auto-detect the secondary display.
- Added code to the experimental sector code to try to identify why sectors are being randomly lost.
- Fixed a crash bug when exiting early from the offline tutorial and attempting to log in.

Server optimization work is still on-going, we'll have a big capacity-test event once that's all been solidified. Have a great weekend, everyone!
VO 1.8.289 includes:

- Added more optimizations to reduce possible lag during large player battles.
- Private messages, guild, group, and vote actions no longer reveal online status for privacy reasons.

We're been doing a lot of server-side optimization, to improve performance in large battles and build towards the even more epic situations we all want to see. Thus far, we've had a lot of success, although bigger changes are in the works. This latest version includes some tweaks that are nearly a thousand times faster for very specific situations (but perhaps only twice as fast in common cases).

This is not all related to PvP performance, some of it includes the behaviour of NPCs and how well we can get them to work when scaled to really large numbers. I would like to see some terrifyingly large fleets of capships and escort-fighters.

In the meantime, we are also still debugging a rare, but persistent issue in our threaded sector code that's currently running in Grayspace. So, if you experience sudden logouts in that area of the game, please submit a ticket and let us know. We're instrumenting and debugging the hell out of it, but it's quite a sporadic issue.

Once these improvements have matured a little further, we'll run some big Events and see how it all shakes out. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend!
Just as a quick heads-up to our player base: No Guild Software or Vendetta Online servers were exposed or vulnerable to the recent Heartbleed security compromise. All our servers make use of non-vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software, largely due to our particular choice of server platforms and (frankly) happy circumstance on our part. Thus, we have remained secure throughout this disclosure, and we were never compromised on this specific issue.

We have been tracking this issue since it first came to light, and we will be continuing to do so, while also carefully working through our own infrastructure and codebase to make sure we aren't affected by any secondary or tertiary ramifications of this vulnerability, and taking steps to mollify our own healthy paranoia. We remain vigilantly dedicated to keeping your data secure and private.
VO 1.8.288 included:

- Optimized of UI updates when mining asteroids.
- Capship energy drain now properly persists between NPC and player controlled capships.
- Capships can no longer be used to conquer stations by wedging it into the docking bay of the station when it is conquerable.
- Players are now notified if they get Temp KOS by damaging a conquerable station defense turret.
- Fixed conquerable station issue when a Temp KOS player attempts to conquer the station. The 30 secon requirement was no longer in effect after that case.
- Fixed conquerable station issue when players set it as their home station. They weren't properly respawning there and were bounced to a different station instead.
- Fixed problem when a player owned capship was destroyed when the owner was logged off and logging back in would send them to a station other than their home station.
- When a player logs in while in a station and they are not allowed to dock at that station (access key is revoked for example), the player is bounced to another station but their ship stays at the original station. The player will need to regain access to the station to get their ship back.
- Fixed disconnect error when a passenger is in a capship when it explodes.

VO 1.8.287 included:
- All grey space systems are now running the experimental threaded code. Please report any problems through support tickets.

As the final release note states, we have rolled out the new sector code to all sectors in grayspace. We'll be continuing to monitor things, and then eventually roll it out to the entire game. We're doing this in stages to make sure our fixes don't compromise other areas of game stability.

At the same time, we aren't convinced that we've fixed all hit-check related issues with these architectural change, and we're continuing to monitor and enhance things as we move forward. If you experience problems with shots not hitting, please submit a Support Ticket to let us know when/where. If you're seeing a large ping time, then that is likely to blame, but we're targeting those occasional situations where the ping times are very low, but hits are failing to register.

There will be a major next-generational enhancement to the engine rolled out soon, allowing far higher asteroid densities, which will first appear in a few sectors. In the long run, this will completely re-make the face of our galaxy, and make expansion of the universe a far easier and more interesting concept.

Have a great weekend, everyone.
VO 1.8.285-286 incuded:

- Conquerable station sectors Bractus M-14, Latos I-8, and Pelatus C-12 are now running experimental code to test a solution to weapon hits sometimes not registering. Please test these sectors and report any problems through support tickets.
- The virtual mouse (when used through a gamepad controller) on mobile devices now highlights the virtual keyboard button that was selected so multiple presses of 'A' on the gamepad will repeat the same action again.

Please note the changes to the current conquerable station sectors. We've been putting a lot of development effort into tracking down and eliminating the periodic "no-hit" issues that crop up during certain types of player events. We think we have greatly improved the situation, but as the changes are quite major, we're unwilling to roll them out universe-wide without smaller "regional" testing in specific sectors. So, testing and feedback on this new implementation is both welcome and likely to result in a more rapid adoption of the new code throughout the galaxy.
VO 1.8.284 includes:

- The Capship Shipyards station maximum cargo storage limit has been increased to 150,000 from 50,000 cu.
- Windows Store version has been updated to add gamepad support, tweaks to graphics settings on AMD tablets, and capship owners can control their own turrets like how PC/Android platforms can already do.
- Capship owner's mines no longer get triggered by their capship.
- Updated the Oculus SDK to drastically reduce drift.
- Capture-The-Cargo convoys report updates on their respective channels (201/202) again.

Several larger projects are also proceeding in the background. We're working on improving the scalability of larger player events, as well as tracking down some persistent bugs that have been cropping up from time to time. Graphical updates are also in the works, and a more thorough post with some before/after shots will appear soon.

We've also added joystick support for iOS, and will be releasing an iPad update with joystick support in the not too distant future.
VO 1.8.283 includes:

- Group owner's mines will no longer detonate on other group members if the mines were layed before the group was created.
- Mines will no longer detonate on a group member if the member joined the group while in the proximity of the mine.
- Fixed Voice Chat cross-talk.

A few fixes here, but much greater and more important development is currently in the works.

We've long planned to roll out a "universe redux", a far denser and larger assortment of asteroids within individual sectors, along with an expansion and potential explorability of the greater galaxy.

Our universe and game engine have always had this in mind, going back many years. But now with far higher densities of objects, we need to engineer some clever optimizations to allow us to still generate wholly "new" parts of a galaxy, without necessary needing to do a "patch" (ie, wholly new content that is dynamically added, while connected to the live game). This set of optimizations lately boils down to a couple of things, a way to effectively transmit complex arrays of data to the client very quickly over a network, and methods of optimizing our rendering of very large and complex environments over extreme view distances.

Right now, we're working on the first of the two, developing "smart objects" that contain programmatic information about how they're utilized, allowing a single object to expand into massive asteroid ring, or any other feature, once it has been interpreted by the client. This gives us a lot of flexibility for re-using assets in interesting new ways. Plus, the actual data sent across the network is far less, resulting in much improved load times.

From our testing over the past week, we found in the best-case scenario (connected to the test-server on local gigabit ethernet) that load times of a complex sector were cut to 1/10th of what they are when loading the sector content the "traditional" way. These improvements would be even better when used over the actual internet.

Beyond these next-generation changes, we're also doing capacity testing, to improve the responsiveness of the game under large battle scenarios. This should allow us to track down and squash any remaining bugs in larger multi-player environments, while also helping us scale up our battle situations and allow the ever-more gigantic battles that we envision for the future.

Plans are still in the works for rolling out new Trident variants, along with some cool new artwork and content drops that I'll be talking more about in the near future.
VO 1.8.282 includes:

- Trident Type M maximum shield strength bumped to 40k.
- Player-owned capship shield repair timer now resets after each hit, like the NPC shields.
- Group health and sector list health now includes shield strength.
- Shield strength while manning a player-owned turret now shows the correct value.
- Repair guns no longer damage player-owned capship shields.
- Shields no longer look like they disappear when the capship pilot mans their own turret.
- Fixed infrequent lua error when the capship pilot launches from their own capship.

Mostly a lot of fixes for the recent, major capship enhancements. More significant updates are in the works, once we've gotten the recent updates stabilized. (Yes, more Trident variants are coming as well).

One thing that looms pretty large on our to-do list is the long-running "universe redux" plan, that will include re-working the entire universe with far larger, denser and more complex fields of asteroids. We're working on advancing our engine technology, on both the network and rendering sides, to allow us to expand on the dynamic, procedural sectors to scenes of truly.. epic scale. Combined with some updated assets, and future shader/renderer improvements (lighting/shadow/etc), I think this is going to be pretty amazing. It will also play into the expandability and explorability of an expanded universe, which has obvious gameplay ramifications for all the "territorial ownership" content I've been talking about.

As we get a bit closer, I'll start to post some screenshots from some of this work.
VO 1.8.281 includes:

- Player-owned capships now have shields that work the same way as NPC capship shields.
- Ships stored in capships can now have their ammo refilled by the capship owner without having to launch and dock with the capship.

At long last, player-owned capital ships now feature re-charging shields, just like their NPC counterparts! This was an important step in development, making the shields persistently the same whether the player logs off or not. All of this is going to be very useful in the future, when we're dealing with more cases of larger player ships, player-owned stations, territory and factions.

Please continue to bring any issues to our attention on this. Major changes always bring up the potential for bugs, and while this underwent an entire extra week of testing and tuning, there's always the potential for something to be missed. We want to squash any bugs as quickly as possible.

Another feature was also added in this latest release, but not yet enabled. I'll discuss that in a future post, when we're closer to rolling out that feature.

Thanks everyone, have a great weekend!
VO 1.8.280 includes:

- Added Sony DualShock 4 support to Android and Windows.
- Faction logos now display properly on ARM Mali Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition.
- Players can no longer dock to capships with CTC cargo. It will need to be jettisoned first.
- Radar extender addons now only work if they are equipped as addons, not if they are in your cargo hold.
- Google+ Achievements are now supported in the Android Play Store and sideload versions.
- Fixed PVP Veteran 1 achievement for Amazon GameCircle and iOS GameCenter.
- Added a 'Log off' button to the mutually exclusive faction choice menu.
- Your character name is now displayed in the faction choice verification menu.
- Added a 3 month non-recurring in-app purchase to the Android version, supporting Play Store "Gift Cards".
- Persistent capships now mirror the player's weapon addons after player log-off.

VO 1.8.279 included:

- Pressing X+Y at the same time on the gamepad in Android now displays the gamepad help menu that shows what the different controls do.
- Dialogs with 'Do not show this again' checkboxes now default to the OK button being focused instead of the checkbox.
- Attempt to fix clipped screen on HTC One devices.

There are a lot bigger changes and deeper fixes in the works, as we continue to test and tune and respond to feedback following the factional changes and new capship features. We expect to also have some new content dropping in the near future, but for the moment we're focused on making the persistent capships as robust as possible. These same code-paths being implemented for capships are going to be used for player-owned stations, player-owned convoys, factions and other mechanics down the road, so it's very important that we lay a solid groundwork.

We also have some new graphical and environmental changes in the pipe, which I'll talk about next week. Have a great weekend, everyone!
These are some pretty major updates..

VO 1.8.278 includes:

- Serco Vulture Guardian turbo drain changed from 56 to 55, top speed increased from 220 to 225.
- New Raptor UDV available in UIT stations, requires high Admire standing with UIT, also minimum of Dislike with both Serco and Itani.
- Faction standing for major "foreign" nations (to which your character does NOT belong) are now capped at +600. This only impacts Serco, Itani and UIT standings, there are no changes to minor and corporate factions.
For instance, this means if your character is UIT, the highest Itani faction standing you may acquire is "Respected" (the reverse also being true). The levels of "Admire" and "Pillar of Society" are reserved for native faction members.
- Serco/Itani mutually exclusive faction standings have been changed to equalize at Neutral (0). This means that if a character achieves +600 with Serco, the character's Itani standing will fall to no-higher-than -600, and visa-versa.
- The default faction standings for Itani on a new UIT character has been changed to Neutral (0) to reflect the updated mutual exclusion of Itani/Serco.
- Player-owned capships now inherit the owner's keychain so the capship won't get attacked in conquerable stations.
- Player-owned capships are always visible on the keyholder's radar no matter how far away they are in the same sector.
- Turreted non-capital scale ships no longer persist.
- Player-owned persistent capships should now use their custom name.

VO 1.8.277 includes:

- Players can now leave their capship if they have a flyable ship in the cargo hold. The ship is chosen in the PDA Tactical->Hangar tab. When the capship owner docks to their own capship, they can regain control of the capship through the PDA Tactical->Operations tab. Passengers will experience a short interface update when the capship owner logs out/in, launches from, or regains control of the capship.
- Capships now stay around for 5 minutes after their owner logs off.
- When a player logs in and they have a capship floating anywhere in space, it will immediately spawn whereever it was last located.
- Capship owners will be notified if their capship is under attack. The capship's health in the owner's inventory list does not currently update.
- While the capship owner is not in control of their capship, it is displayed in the sector list as the custom name of the capship if set, or the owner's name plus a unique identifier.
- The capship owner currently can always dock with their own capship even if no space is available, so they cannot be locked out of the capship.
- The same capship access key currently works for all of a player's capships. This will change to allow a different access key per capship in a future update.
- The Connecting dialog text has changed and now includes a timeout progress-bar.

All the additions, like new fighters and capship-features will likely be well-received..

But there may be some controversy over the factional changes, and let me say that I understand where people are coming from when they see their hard-won standing going away. However, I strongly believe this is the best overall direction for the game, especially in light of changes I intend to implement over the coming months, and it seemed best to "quickly rip off the band-aid", get it over with and move forward.

A few things to keep in mind, in relation to the changes:

- Items / Ships that are faction-exclusive is really just an opportunity for a more player-driven economy, something I plan to help enable.

- Mutual exclusion does not rule out the possibility of changing factional "citizenship" via some specialized and very difficult mechanic. But, it was beyond the scope of what I could deliver this week.

- Options like "dual respect" might even become possible, again, via mechanics that are very difficult to achieve and maintain. We can still have flexibility and let people find their own path, without it being as fast of a pendulum swing as the "game of standing" had become.

- As always: Nothing is cast in stone! I'm still open to continued feedback on all of this, particularly on the Suggestions Forum. I'm really aiming to change a LOT of gameplay over the coming months, and the reality of my.. commitment to that, is hopefully becoming self-evident. I'm all for tweaking whatever I can to make the best possible game for everyone involved, across all play styles.

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!
VO 1.8.275-276 include:

- Corvus Greyhound turbo thrust increased from 350 to 450.
- Mines now persist for 30 minutes.
- Added a Drain Proximity Mine that drains power cells by 250 units when it explodes. It is available at some Serco stations and requires a high faction standing to purchase.
- Added ability for players attacked in monitored and guarded sectors to attack back in self-defense without any factional loss if they kill their attacker. This self defense ability persists for 15 minutes from the last hit by either player or until the original attacker dies for any reason.

Lots of other changes in the works, particularly with persistent capships. We're just working through a lot of different edge cases and making sure they're all handled. Hopefully that will debut next week.
VO 1.8.273-274 include:

- Music now crossfades when changing sectors.
- Killing 3 players in a 7-day period, within a single faction's Guarded space, will result in that faction placing Temp KoS status on the killer for 24 hours. Exceptions are made for killing players of Hated or lower standing with the local faction, and active duels. This only impacts Guarded regions (ie, station sectors). Corvus stations ignore all kills and are not affected by this change.
- Linux Sandybridge and Haswell Intel drivers use full shaders now.
- Lowered the default texture detail settings for Android devices with 512megs or less of system memory.
- Other internal changes.

We're putting quite a bit of time into enhancements to the faction system, aiming to allow self-defense in monitored and guarded space, as well as other improvements. Beyond this, we expect persistent capships to debut in the near future. A little later in the month of January, you should see some changes to game balance that are likely to continue in the first two quarters of 2014.

Many more announcements to come, including the overall plans for VO 1.9 and 2.0. Happy new year, everyone!
The Holiday Promo mentioned in the Holiday Newsletter is now in effect! Any previous subscriber may play for free between now and the 1st of the year. Happy Holidays, everyone.

Ten new player-created missions have been rolled out, some of which allow access to manufacture new types of addons! Check them out.

Several Events are in the pipe, be sure to stop by for the Sedina B8 invasions expected tonight, as well as another one on the 27th, a tube Race Tournament on the 28th, and Nation War on the 29th. See the front page, or the in-game listing for details.

We also have some ship updates! Check out the new Camo Edition of the Corvus Greyhound, available exclusively to Long Term Subscribers.

Aside from this, we also have totally updated all the standard Vulture graphics, as well as the Anniversary Edition you can see below. This ship has many color variations, depending on the selected color palette, there are some pretty fascinating and unique combinations.

VO 1.8.272 includes:

- Plasma Annihilator has been buffed and re-balanced per the Suggestions Forum thread.
- Group member mines are now blue on the radar.
- Android gamepad virtual mouse sensitivity and axis invert settings are now configurable in Options -> Advanced -> Controls -> Mouse.
- Fixed Android touch-HUD so the elements don't overlap in 1080 mode.
- Fixed possible crash on the Amazon Appstore version if GameCircle fails to initialize.

Work is continuing to move forward on Capship Persistency and other features, along with the debut of some new graphics and ship variant types. Stay tuned!
VO 1.8.271 includes:
- Mine persistency! Your mines no longer disappear when you log out or change sectors.
- Because mines now persist, if you get Temp KOS with the faction that owns the station you're currently in, you will get launched out or thrown to your home station if you don't have a flyable ship.
- Added preliminary Leap Motion support for the Windows version. 6 new binds are available: LEAPOX, LEAPOY, LEAPOZ, LEAPTX, LEAPTY, LEAPTZ; where LEAPO* are the three axes of orientation and the LEAPT* are the three axes of position. When a Leap Motion device is detected at startup, flight-assist is enabled, mouse-look is disabled, and LEAPOX, LEAPOY, LEAPOZ, LEAPTZ default to Pitch, Turn, Roll, and Accel analog controls respectively.
- Fixed button positions in the one-click login menu for mobile devices.
- Default Moga binds have changed to be more usable.
- Changed the default invert mode for the Right-Stick Y axis on mobile gamepads.
- The D-Pad on Android gamepads can now be used to select controls in the UI.

We've delayed making this official announcement until we were pretty confident in the reliability of this recent release, which heralded major changes to the persistency of universe objects, while also giving a window on things to come. The persistency of player content will be a major thread running through much of our development in 2014, as we continue to add more tools with which players may impact and influence the face of the galaxy. This will eventually lead to our long-awaited goals of an explorable and conquerable expanded universe of massive scope.

In the meantime, we're still fixing issues and polishing up the new gameplay as we add it. You can expect improvements to HUD and mine friend/foe identification in the near future, along with other tweaks and fixes. Please continue to submit Support Tickets, Bugs forum posts, and Suggestions forum posts for aspects you think should be improved.

Beyond persistency, we've also done a lot in the last few weeks to improve the game's graphical fidelity on high-end Android devices, as well as the default interface experience on micro-console devices like the GameStick, OUYA and Mad Catz MOJO. Tweaks and improvements here will continue. It's not a trivial thing to shoehorn an MMO developed for a mouse-and-keyboard onto a mobile device, and it's even harder still to make it a pleasant experience with only a game controller, but we're working hard to improve the interface and polish that use case.

The Leap Motion is a fascinating device, a next-generation "air" controller, able to detect very fine movements in fingers, opening doors to a lot of really cool "sci-fi" interface possibilities and gestural controls. We have some friends at Leap, and we're happy to support them, but we also have some ideas for how Leap might play into our next-generation plans and give players a more immersive experience than ever before. It's a little early for me to go into details; for now we have a very simplistic interface and flight mechanic that allows the use of the Leap Motion, but does not yet illustrate the far greater plans for the device. Supporting the Leap Motion, while interesting, might seem like an unusual use of development time to some of our players: I ask that you bear with me, this basic implementation was pretty easy for us, and there are some really interesting possibilities on the horizon.

Thanks everyone!
Hi everyone, we've been rather quiet lately as we've been quite intensely productive. Also, I'm really tired of being repeatedly wrong about when we'll release the persistent mine feature, so I've been a little reluctant to keep posting "Still working on it@!#". But, we are. Fingers crossed, you will see it in a Vendetta Online near you Very Soon Now. Perhaps days, perhaps only hours?

In other news, we've had some people testing the new "Event Commands" that we've built over the last month or so, creating some cool new scenarios and content that will hopefully be pretty fun. The general goal is to have a whole bunch of cool events and things going on during our usual holiday-season period (Christmas to New Years), and I think this one is going to be better than ever.

There seems to be a lot of market interest around Android-based micro-consoles and set-top-boxes this holiday season. Devices like the GameStick and Mad Catz MOJO in additional to the OUYA and other players. As a result, we're doing a little quick work to improve and polish up the experience on these devices. In some cases, fixing simple bugs (the pitch axis default was reversed by accident, in a mistaken commit some time back), in other cases adding a few easy features (basic menu navigation with the D-pad). These changes are beneficial to everyone, as they impact the general playability of VO with a game controller on any platform, including possible future cases like Steam Box "Big Picture mode" and the like.

We may have a bit of an influx of newbies sometime soon, although we don't know exactly when. But we've been trying to spruce up our various different sites and listings, from the front page of (iOS AppStore link, soon new screenshots) to the Android Play Store, to Amazon, and so on. Keep an eye out, and as always, please be kind to the new folks.

Graphical changes are still in the works, they'll debut as soon as I can get a chance to test and roll them out. This includes capship skins, Vultures and so on. Unfortunately, everything is always more complicated than one hopes; so some of my goals, like a clear "Military" class of vessels, require re-vamping some AI definitions to make sure the skins are used in the right situations.

We're also working on new replacement asteroids, for certain types, that will drop in seamlessly on the PC, as their shapes are very closely matched to the existing asteroids, but with more polygons and detail. Don't expect these to roll out immediately, the work is still in process, but this is one example of a multi-pronged effort that's going to drastically change the way the game looks in 2014, building towards the Vendetta Online 2.0 goal set. Big changes to lighting, shaders, and content density. Do you have a super fast video card in your gaming desktop, and expect to max out all settings? Great! Expect your power bill to go up.

We will retain compatibility with mobile, by mainly using the (current) older assets on those platforms, with their current lighting and shaders. As always, we'll have options to disable shader features and reduce graphical quality for those on PCs with more modest capabilities.

As soon as we get some of this mine/capship persistency work in place and stable, we'll get back to things like content changes and automated-Events.

That's all for now everyone, thanks so much for your support, and please continue to post any issues you run across, to ether the Bugs Forum or via Support Tickets.

- John "Incarnate" Bergman, Guild Software Inc.
VO 1.8.269 and 1.8.270 included:

- Collision damage calculation now works more like the 2012 version, but retaining the improvements to threading, etc.
- Concussion Railguns now reloadable.
- Collisions of less than 50HP of damage are ignored, so small bumps don't result in actual hull damage.
- New "Power Cell Blaster" available at a Research station, somewhere in the galaxy. Depletes the enemy power cell by 50 units per hit.
- The Xang Xi Self-Propelled Concussion Mine can now be reloaded.
- Fixed missing textures on improved ETC1 assets for Android if the shaders are disabled.
- Fixed Tegra 4 detection on Android 4.3.
- Tegra 4 and Adreno 320 (and above) based devices now use full screen resolution instead of upscaling.
- Better auto-detection of android-based consoles.

Some long-awaited gameplay fixes and improvements, which will hopefully resolve some player concerns, along with an all-new weapon type that allows the remote draining of an enemy Power Cell. This can be used to prevent an enemy from jumping to another sector, or opening a wormhole to another system. It's a totally new game paradigm, so there might be some related bugs, as always we welcome feedback via the Bugs forum, or Support Tickets if the issue is more sensitive.

Earlier in the week we launched the updated backgrounds, planets and other improved graphics on the Android platform, along with interface improvements for micro-console and set-top-box type devices. Basically, Android devices without touchscreens and featuring an internal "TV" flag will be auto-configured for "TV Mode", an evolution of the interface we built for the OUYA.

Similarly, we've dialed up the default graphics settings for the latest chips, so players with NVIDIA Tegra4, or Qualcomm Adreno 320 or better, will get a high-detail experience with native display output (1080p or more, unlike the defaults which "upscale" 720p). This can make for a pretty impressive TV-playing experience, especially with a high performance device like the MadCatz MOJO.

The timing on these mobile changes were important, to help support some of our partners, as well as position the game for some enhanced exposure in the mobile marketplace.

We are still continuing to work on the persistent-mine and persistent-capship features. We're being particularly careful with certain critical aspects of development in that area, as it touches on a lot of fundamental game concepts. But progress is still being made, and we'll start to ship it as soon as we're solidly confident in the code.

Have a great weekend everyone!
VO 1.8.268 includes:

- Ships now display their volume as cargo in their description.
- Improved performance of inventory updates in the client UI.
- Added assets for a variety of graphical markings for ships.

This might not be the bigger release we've been aiming to make for the last couple of weeks, but it was necessary to meet some other deadlines related to the upcoming release of the improved graphics assets on Android (nebula, planets, etc). Some development, like this, has a long chain of linear events that need to be started as early as possible, to make sure all the updates are ready, approved by any third-parties, and propagated out to the download servers when the release finally goes "live".

If you have an Android device and would like to help test the new version, take a look at this forum thread. Feedback is appreciated. (Please don't post the sideload URL on any sites though, the Play Store APK will be updated soon enough, and we'd prefer people install it that way).

The "graphical markings" mentioned in the update are new shaders and engine changes that allow us to more easily use the dynamically composited materials I wrote about a few weeks ago. The textures themselves were already in place, but the work needed to be wrapped up so that I can begin rolling the content itself into production. I can't say exactly when you'll see ships in "military markings" or some of the other changes, but I expect pretty soon here.

The changes were also needed to allow the Anniversary Edition of the new Vulture to be put into production. I want to "release" all the new Vultures at the same time, so getting this working was important. Rolling out the new Vulture is also pretty high on my priority list.

Persistent Mines and Capships Update

This is still coming along, and big thanks to all the PCC members who have been helping us on the Test Server. We've uncovered quite a few bugs, along with some more aspects of how old and new design choices were meeting in sometimes-unexpected ways. This is all good stuff, it's just taken longer than we expected.

Releasing the Persistent Mines is still our #1 gameplay priority, and priority-overall. We do get interruptions every once in awhile, which will delay things a little here or there, including some recent real-life challenges that have soaked up some of our hours lately (that I've mentioned on the forums).

More Events, and Possible Newbie Influx

I've been talking about having more Events in the past few weeks, along with new event-related tools. We've had some advancement in this area, and hopefully we'll get it to coincide with some potential upcoming exposure. I'll post proper Events when we're ready to bring people in for that, so keep an eye out.

We do have a couple of Events scheduled for this very weekend, a Nation War and Jolly Roger's Last Lad/Wench Standing, so be sure and log in or check the front page of our website to see the schedule.

That's all for now, thanks everyone.
We encountered some issues with persistent mine development last week, and chose to spend some more time in evaluation and testing of the new system. These changes are taking place at a center point of many intersecting areas of gameplay, basically taking a lot of non-persistent concepts and making them fully persistent, regardless of whether a given player is online (possibly impacting mission data and character information in new ways). This makes for a lot of potential "edge case" bugs, that while probably very rare, we still want to rule out to make this new feature as solid as possible. We are still optimistic that persistent mines will be rolled out later this week, but all the better for the extra investment of our time.

The problems with persistent mines has slightly delayed other development, we do not expect full capship persistency this week. But work on that is on-going, and dovetails to some extent with the general-persistency work being done for mines, so testing one feature can also help the other.

We *are* moving forward with other work, related to the new ships variants (Vulture, etc), weapon types, and the like. Tweaks with the Trident(s) will be on-going, and more information about some of the upcoming Automated Events will also be forthcoming. More News updates will be posted as scheduling becomes a little more concrete.

Be sure to also stop by for the upcoming Nation War event. Perhaps we'll even see the new Vulture represented? Possibly with a few tweaks, from user feedback? I look forward to the on-going discussion on our Suggestions Forum.

As always, thanks for your patience and support.
A couple of brief status updates on the development mentioned in the last few posts:

- Persistent Mines are coming along well. With some luck, we might even see them in the next release on Friday. We put in some time to try and make mines more flexible concepts (in the engine), and the overall addition of persistency has been a good thing, which directly fed into and influenced..

- Persistent Capships, which are taking a little bit longer. There are some complex concepts that we're updating in the game to make this all work robustly. In fact, we probably haven't done this much low-level client/server development in quite some time. But, we're proceeding carefully to minimize the potential for issues.

- Capship Variants and Changes are still on-going, and I want to state very clearly that no one should draw any "permanent" conclusion from recent changes to cargo space / docking-bay usage and the like. I've been very open on the forums that we would like continued feedback and input on a lot of these concepts, and that I'm willing to change values (as I did right after release, for the cargo-space-requirements of many smaller ships, bringing it more in-line with a player suggestion). One has to be careful how one spends precious development time, and when things are in constant change, and we have a lot of changes going on with capships; obviously the persistency stuff, but also the potential for things like player shields, new weapon availability and types, etc.

We want to retain all the good gameplay that has evolved out of player usage of capships over the past couple of years, but we're still headed towards a number of more advanced goals for capship capability that I think will make people very happy when we get it all released into the game (short-term, not Soon).

- New Vulture feedback is welcome on the Suggestions forum. For those unaware, there's an experimental prototype version of the new asset in the Corvus Capitol sector. The asset will eventually replace all existing Vulture variants, as the standard Vulture graphics.

- Automated Events are something I have on the mind lately, as a possible target for the near future, when some of the current projects are completed. These would work similarly to player-run or developer-run events, but would be common enough in interest, and simple enough in implementation, that we might be able to just script them to happen automatically on a regular basis. That way we can avoid a lot of the scheduling scenarios that often crop up with player-run events. These automated events would in no way replace player or developer-run events, but would persistently augment them and offer some guaranteed times to pull people together. If you'd like to see Nation War or some similar concept be implemented as an automated event, please feel free to weigh in on the Suggestions Forum. I have some very specific (large) long-term goals for automated events, but I'd like to start with something a bit simpler for now.

Lastly, for any who missed it, the point-release on Tuesday included quite a lot of stuff:

- Removed the ability to jettison cargoed ships.
- Ship Sell Price now includes the full price of ships inside the cargo hold.
- The mass of ships now include the full mass of cargoed ships and their nested cargo/addons. Passengers' ships do not affect the mass of the capship yet.
- Selling ships directly from the cargo hold of another ship no longer results in orphaned addons.
- Capship explosions are now visible when the pilot is controlling a turret and the ship explodes.
- Fixed a bug where a capship passenger gets a blank screen when they dock to a capship in space and then leave it when it is in a station.
- Valent A-3 Assault and Axia RA18 Assault bots that are created through the LAR Project mission tree should now fire all of their weapons.
- The currently active ship is no longer displayed in the Station List of the Load/Unload menu.
VO 1.8.267 includes:

- New Vulture variant is now available at the Corvus capitol.
- Players' ships now count towards the cargo of capships when they dock. If not enough cargo space is available, the player cannot dock.
- Capship owners can now give their ship a custom name. The custom name is displayed in the upper right area of the capship menu. Use the /renameship "New Name" command to change it. You must be piloting the ship to use the command. A GUI interface is forthcoming. Names are validated by the server the same way character names are.
- Fixed a bug that prevented some news posts from being viewable.

Requiring cargo space for ships docking in capships was always part of the intended design, but had been temporarily avoided to make the initial rollout a little simpler. Now that the limitations are enforced, you can dock different numbers of ships based on their relative size. For instance, a Behemoth is 300cu, allowing two of them to dock with a current Trident Type M; where the smallest of fighters is 100cu, allowing up to six ships to dock.

We can, of course, continue to tweak the cargo stats and other aspects of the Tridents, as we move forward.

The new Vulture is the testbed prototype for replacing the existing asset. It is currently configured identically to a Vulture MkIV, to give people a 1:1 comparison against a widely-available, existing ship. Polite feedback on the forum is welcome.

Naming of capital ships is of course a first-generation implementation, mainly to get the ship name concepts stored on the server. Once we have a population of named ships, we'll move ahead with adding the ship-name to locations on the HUD, etc.
The latest newsletter was released earlier today. If you're interested enough be reading this, then hopefully you're also subscribed to the mailing list (do the email-verification and then check the little box in your "Account Info" on the website). If you don't get it immediately, don't worry, emails will be going out all through the weekend.

In the meantime, you can also read the newsletter online: Here. Most of the news is covering topics I've discussed in recent newsposts, but a few things are new, including the mention of our development of new tools for running Events, as well as the upcoming ability to name your own capship. If we're lucky, the capship-naming thing could appear as early as tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Similarly, I also mentioned that we're working on more varieties of graphical markings for ships, including some which may be applied to "Military" craft, like this prototype below (the blue color below is at random and not associated with any particular faction, the markings are independent of color):

This should help people to immediately distinguish between different types of convoys, and we're working on markings for military, "pirate", and other uses.
VO 1.8.266 and 266.1 included:

- All known radar issues have been fixed.
- Charged weapons no longer fire if they drain zero energy from your Power Cells.
- Addon/Mineral/Cargo scanners now have a title before each list so addons vs. cargo items are distinguishable.
- Fixed crash on Android version when attempting to go to the ship purchase menu in the new player in-game tutorial with the L1 gamepad button instead of the R1 button.
- Nvidia Shield now defaults to game controller input instead of touch-screen input for the tutorials and HUD.

The initial release rolled out this past Friday, with some further patches on Weds for unrelated issues that cropped up. Another release may be expected tomorrow.
As I mentioned last week, we're working on a number of new gameplay features, including some new ship and graphic assets, as well as the ability to configure ships to "look" a bit more unique and different. I'll dig into that in a moment.

The improvements to the Shared Radar Extender (internally referred to as the "AWACS" system) have since been released on Friday. There have been some bugs that have cropped up with the radar since the release, most of which have been fixed by now, and we're aiming to have things entirely resolved as of the release this coming Friday. Unfortunately, the time spent on Radar bugfixes has delayed persistent-mine development (described in the last post) by about a week.

New Capships. As I covered last week, we're actively building some new variations of the Tridents, to allow our players to put a more unique "stamp" on these creations. Capships are one of the most complex and arduous achievements in Vendetta Online, so allowing people plenty of variation is a worthy goal. Here's a brief look at the upcoming Trident Type S (prototype, final version may have further variations in coloration, etc):

Expanding the role and value of Capships. It really isn't enough to make more visually distinct capships, or even variations in ship statistics, they sorely need the addition of certain features to make them more usable within the game universe. We are currently working in this direction, although I can't promise how quickly some of this will be released. Among other things:

- Adding the ability of a pilot to launch from and re-dock with their own capship. This will allow captains a lot more flexibility, to launch and mine from an asteroid, or trade with a smaller station. It will also allow people to share control of capships far more easily and rapidly, making further use of the existing Key system we use for conquerable stations.

- Adding more Capship Stations to the Universe. This is also a clear necessity, to allow people to be able to operate from different locations in the galaxy; trading, repairing, and securely storing their vessels. In this initial rollout, these stations will probably not be as large as the current capship station, but will rather be new components that will be added to, or nearby, existing Capitols and major trade hubs. Only a minority of stations will support direct docking of capital ships, and this is intentional. Smaller stations will require undocking and ferrying of cargo, etc.

There are other elements that I'm not going to delve into describing just yet, like the potential "capturing" of capital ships, or their increased persistency in the universe (not simply vanishing on the captain's logoff). There's a great deal that will feed into that, which is well beyond the scope of this modest new update.

As I said, while this is in the works, the development timetable is still fluid. The first feature (pilots launching from capships) will probably debut first, before the end of the year. The expansion of capship-stations in the galaxy requires assets we haven't even made yet, so that will take longer; I'm not going to put a timetable on that, as of yet.

Another New Weapon Class. Last week I described how we were in the process of adding the ability to separate weapon damage into varying "types", so we can make ships more resistant to "energy" class weapons, vs "explosions", vs "collision" damage and the like. This has been implemented, but not yet rolled out in any gameplay-accessible form as of yet.

Beyond this, however, we've also created a totally new type of weapon that is capable of draining energy from an impacted target. In other words, shooting a ship will deplete their power cell, preventing them from turboing, jumping through a wormhole, or even firing back. This should have a lot of interesting ramifications, to border control, piracy, station and territory conquest, and beyond. You can expect the first of these weapons to debut in the near future.

That's all for now, please keep us posted as any issues arise (Bugs Forum, or website Support Tickets).
VO 1.8.265 includes:

- Fixed problems with the group radar extender addon. Multiple extenders in one group (one per member) are also supported.
- 1-9 hotkey support for the sensor-list.
- For plugin developers, the GUILD_MEMBER_REMOVED event now contains the reason for the event as the second argument.

All of this builds towards what was discussed in the "What's around the corner?" post from earlier in the week.
We've been pretty silent on development for the last few months, and I wanted to take a moment to shed a little light on a few of the things you may see in the near future.

Several projects have been taking up development time, some of which are externally-related projects that are still secret, and others have been a critical "cleanup" and housekeeping of certain game related features. The process of building and releasing a game across so many platforms can be challenging, so some work to make the system more manageable was sorely needed. We also have some servers that require upgrades, and other chores that take up time, but don't directly impact the game in any visible way. We did a lot of this work over the past summer, and while some of this work is still on-going, at this point we're aiming to dig more deeply in gameplay-related changes.

So, without further ado, here are a few of those projects in the works (for the next few weeks):

New ships, new graphics assets. We're making changes to the engine to allow us to do a lot more dynamic creation of graphical assets, to better depict a particular enemy pirate clan, or allow a player to configure the "look" of their first constructed station. Our initial experimental implementations of this are the Vulture and the Trident, which have not yet debuted, but hopefully the "new" Vulture will be showing up in the near future.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this development is that we'll be able to create a lot of content procedurally, without increasing download size and even minimizing impact on client memory overhead. That's always been a big struggle for us.. the desire to add a lot of cool looking stuff, to give people more "unique" looking content, but without ending up at a 30GB download like other well-known MMOs.

Lots of bugfixes, some of them greater, others smaller. This spans the distance from gameplay that has had broken aspects for a long time, all the way to low-level architectural improvements to make current and future gameplay possible. A few examples: capship battle scalability, making AWACS radar work properly (a feature of player-capships that is important for the future), etc.

Long-requested feature implementations. Again, some bigger and some smaller, but even the smaller ones could have major ramifications to the universe. Example: fully persistent mines, no longer requiring the player to be present in the given sector. The mines will persist across sector restarts, be destructable by anyone, and will still impact the faction standing of a remote player in the same way as if the mine-laying player had been present for the "kill". Overall, we think mines will open up a lot of interesting tactical potential with minefields, and defense of conquerable assets, will also play into..

Expanding the very nature of weapons and armor. We recently added the ability to differentiate between damage types in weapons and armor. In other words, we can create ship variants that are well-armored against energy weapons, weak against explosions, but fairly tough against collision damage, or any combination thereof. We can make different classes of missiles that do energy damage, or mines that primarily do collision damage along with concussive force. This makes for a more powerful range of options for unique and interesting types of weapons, ships, and challenges. New NPCs could arise that require specific loadouts and tactics to take them down, and new tactics using overlapping fields of mines with different properties.

There's a lot more in the works than just these points, but I'm mentioning these features as I expect you'll see them begin to appear in production over the next few weeks. I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver, but be aware that we are still working on adding more capship stations, re-working the galaxy, economy and faction system, and other Big Stuff. This post isn't about those things, it's about the additions you might actually see This Month.

Now, there is always a certain amount of criticism, even in the face of evident development progress, that some of our choices of development may not be what the game needs the most. That's fair, I get it, and I even agree in many cases. But our allocation of time is based on maximum productivity, not just moving ahead on a linear timeline. If the developer required to do Important Feature X is busy working on a secret external project with a fixed timeline, then I'll allocate our remaining resources to do something smaller or less complicated in the interest of still moving ahead in the meantime. That's just competent project management. It sometimes results in features you didn't-want before the features you do-want, but that's a reality with the small size of our team and varied areas of expertise.

I hope you're all as excited as we are to see how these changes play out in our universe. As always, thanks for playing and supporting us. Take care.

- Guild Software, Inc.
VO 1.8.264 includes:

- Fixed upside down display issue with Android devices with Mali-400 GPUs.
- Reduced network traffic when capships with turrets are in the sector.
- Changed login menu background for aesthetic reasons.
- Added ETC1 compressed texture assets for fresh installs of the Android sideload apk (/sdcard/VendettaOnline doesn't exist and the app is uninstalled). This improves memory usage on Mali devices.

What's not mentioned in this update changelog are all the other changes that are happening, like the imminent appearance of the new Vulture (thanks to a server restart), along with development of new Trident variants. There will be a more substantial newspost in the near future.
VO 1.8.263 includes:

- Updated Oculus Rift sdk to 0.2.4 which allows the magnetometer to be calibrated through the Oculus Rift calibration utility.
- Added tutorial voiceovers specific to consoles and gamepads.
- Proximity and lightning mines are no longer triggered on group members.
- Added experimental texture loading to Linux 64 version. Please report any rendering/missing texture issues.

The new vulture is still in the works, we need to do a server restart and some other maintenance, so it may be another week. In the meantime, we've gotten a lot further with procedural texture compositing; this should be really useful for all kinds of things, from player-owned capships to stations to NPCs and general fighter variants and so on.
VO 1.8.262 includes:

- New Vulture ship assets added for upcoming testing.
- Improved gamepad support for Android. Better default buttons for OK (A) and Cancel (B)
- Added experimental texture loading to Linux 64 version. Please report any rendering/missing texture issues.
- Fixed auto-fire on Android microconsoles.
- Fixed ice texture when shaders are turned off on OpenGL PCs.
- Increased Oculus Rift field of view.
- Mines now sympathetically detonate when other players mines explode nearby.
- Fixed Moga controller X/Y buttons not working properly under certain circumstances.
- Conquerable stations are no longer chosen as trade mission destinations.
- NPCs and turrets no longer attempt to fire on players entering the sector (while they are invulnerable).
- Removed OpenGL Intel DRI check for Ivybridge so shaders won't get disabled.
- Fixed in-game capchas when running on Android consoles with overscan compensation enabled.

The new Vulture will not be "released" immediately, instead we're going to put off the Release Event until late next week/weekend. The process of patching it into the game took a bit longer than expected, and I'd like a little more time for testing and preparation before releasing the ship "into the wild", so to speak.

Linux64 is also testing our new next-generation unified material system, which is experiencing a few issues and will be patched up shortly. Your patience and bug reports are appreciated :).
VO 1.8.261 includes:

- Capship missile-based turret fire delay persist properly.
- Fixed problem with chat entry field on the touchscreen HUD losing focus if Tab is pressed on a connected physical keyboard. The Tab button on the virtual keyboard now auto-completes names.
- Added Quit confirmation menu on Android.
- Added option on mobile devices to disable vibration feedback for button presses.
- Fixed memory corruption bug on certain mobile devices with specific chipsets and driver versions.
- Fixed graphics error under very specific circumstances that caused some 3d objects to not render properly.
- Capship turret list in the Tactical tab are now sorted so they are always in the same order.
- The list of key possessors in the Key Info menu is now sorted alphabetically.

This release has actually been out for a little while, I'm just bringing the News system up to date, and making room for a more substantial post. For now, check out the General forum for a sneak peek of the new Vulture..
VO 1.8.260 includes:

- The 'station under attack' notification received by keyholders of conquerable stations now includes what station is under attack.
- The word 'cockpit' is no longer filtered in chat.
- Turret fire delay now persists between leaving and entering turrets.
- New Amazon GameCircle 2.0 support; requires the app to be updated through the Amazon Store.
- Players can now decline a guild invite if they are already in a guild.
- Horizontal scrollbar in Jettison menu was not visible if any items' names were too long, hiding the individual 'J' buttons.
- Chat messages are more robustly handled during the tiny instant while you jump between sectors.
- Keychain error messages now include the name of the player you were attempting to give the key to.

Larger changes are in the works, potentially including some content drops as well as new ships and graphics. A lengthy "status" post will be coming in the near future, and a newsletter following after. We've had a number of people out sick and traveling lately, which has delayed some upcoming announcements by a couple of weeks; but I expect to have a firmer timeframe next week. Take care all!
As you may see from our recent press release, we're officially launching support for the Oculus Rift family of head-mounted virtual-reality displays.

Just in case you've somehow avoided the news about the Rift, the device provides a head-tracking "virtual reality" display that you wear on your face, allowing you to "look around" within a game environment and gain a much more true feel of "immersion" within the virtual world. Although the consumer head-mount VR concept has been tried before over the years, the Oculus Rift has a very large field of view, which lends a much deeper sense of immersion thanks to the use of your peripheral vision. We think it's a pretty fascinating device, and we expect there will be a lot of interest from PC gamers.

Our strategy on any "new" concept we approach (like, say, porting a full PC MMORPG to mobile devices) is to implement, release and then iterate. User input and discussion is pretty paramount to that process. We did a lot of iteration on the mobile interface, changing defaults and moving things around, tweaking settings and values, to make our game playable there. We expect a similar evolution with VR devices, like the Rift.

Thus, our current release is considered our "first generation". We've gone out of our way to try and come up with an implementation that could be developed fairly quickly (one developer for two weeks, in this case), which would result in real-world game usability. Thus far, most of the other Rift implementations we've seen have been very basic, and require removing the head-mount display to access menus and interface screens on a normal monitor. We chose to put the entire interface into the virtual space, to see how that would work, with the goal of a minimum of "lifting" the device.

We also support the next-generation "HD" version of the Rift, which is likely to be closer to the final consumer retail device. Supporting this within the game is relevant for a few reasons, as it allows us to better optimize our use of the available resolution, and change various interface settings based on the device. We haven't actually seen the game on an "HD" device yet, but we hope it looks cool.

The VR display surface is anti-aliased, as this drastically enhances the visual quality on the current (lower-resolution) devkits.

There are a few points worth noting about the state of the current implementation, as well as what we'd like to enhance:

- We do not yet support the integrated compass. This means we are not magnetically disciplining the head-tracking of the device, it is purely using the accelerometers. We find it usually works pretty well for awhile, maybe 15 minutes or so, but it may eventually get out of calibration (with your head pointed "straight" the view is "off-angle" in some way). We have added a console command (/resetovr) to allow you to re-calibrate quickly during gameplay, which you can also bind to a key (access the console with ~ aka tilde, then "/bind z resetovr" would set it to your 'z' key). Plus, the game auto-calibrates the view on every station launch. We will add support for accessing and independently calibrating the Rift's compass on startup, which should help, but for the moment we're more interested in putting it out there and getting some player feedback.

- Multi-pass renderer effects are not enabled on the Rift. This includes things like full screen lighting effects, glow, and the like. We need to make some engine changes before this will be possible, but it's not a big priority at the moment. Functionality >>>> Glitz.

- Depth is in the "eyes" of the beholder. We did a fair amount of tweaking of the "3D depth" of various HUD elements, vs the game objects, to reduce eye-strain or the need to re-focus. But, given the different eye spacings and other individual factors, people may find other depth settings to their liking. We've made this a variable that can be re-defined during gameplay.

- For the moment, our Oculus Rift support is limited to the Windows version. The Rift device itself does support Mac and Linux, but we have not as of yet. Again, this is just a first-generation implementation, and as always you can expect us to refine and expand it to other platforms as we move forward.

- We expect you to have a fairly decent videocard. There is no explicit "hardware requirement", but keep that in mind.

I'd also like to make some design changes to the HUD, to bring more of the critical elements into the FOV at all times, but this is more of an issue with the lower-resolution "developer" kit than it's likely to be with the final "HD" retail device. Showing more of the outline of your current ship around you, to help with spatial relationships, would also be nice.

I'm sure there will be lots of input and thoughts and suggestions, and as always I welcome them. Please feel free to start related threads on our Suggestions forum, etc.

I hope you're all as excited about this as we are. Take care, and as always, thanks for your support.
We've had some major changes and additions lately, this will cover the high points of release over the last 7-10 days:

VO 1.8.258 included:
- High-resolution planet textures, drastically increasing the visible
detail of planetary surfaces.
- Totally new procedural nebula backgrounds with much greater resolution
and detail. (Nebula development is ongoing).
- For the moment, these new textures and graphics are only available on
PC platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

VO 1.8.257 included:
- Conquerable stations now require you to stay in the docking bay for
30 seconds before you conquer the station.
- Capship pilots can now enter and leave their own turrets through the
Tactical menu in their PDA. (iPad and Windows Store versions do not
yet support this)
- Offline tutorial is now available to Windows/Mac/Linux PC platforms.
It will start on first run of a fresh install and are accessable
through the Options menu from the Login Menu.
- If a Green Throttle controller is detected, the on-screen HUD touch
controls will be disabled.
- PC platforms now use the same button-click sound that the mobile
platforms use.
- Fixed problem of not being able to control turrets when not in
mouselook mode.
- Fixed startup error on Windows XP when attempting to load the Windows
Vista/7 audio driver.

VO 1.8.256 included:
- Fixed black/wrongly colored ice asteroids on OpenGL drivers when
shaders are turned off.
- Capship owners now get Entered/Left messages in the capship's chat
room so the owner knows when someone docks/leaves their capship.
- Fixed a lua error for /key console command if any arguments are missing.
- Android version now ignores SIGFPE instead of crashing.
- Android controllers can now be used to open dropdown listboxes (with
the 'A' button) to change settings.
- Fixed problem with not being able to open the virtual keyboard on some
editboxes with the 'A' button on game controllers of the editbox was
already focused.
- Preliminary testing support for upcoming feature, TBA.

A few followup points on the latest graphics updates: nebula development is still ongoing, as it says in the MOTD, we expect to drop in some additional graphics in the near future.

We have quite a few smaller gameplay changes, fixes and improvements in the works, along with some pretty big ones a little further out.

Among other things, we've been "back-propagating" some of the advancements we launched on mobile, like the "offline tutorial" for new players, and other things, bringing the PC versions in synch with everything else and also updating the PC graphics.

As far as graphics go, you can expect more significant changes through the end of the year. This will not detract from gameplay development, which is largely unrelated and uses different personnel.

It is still a priority to release a public "roadmap", showing the plans with the intended milestones and targets. I don't have a release date on that yet, but I'd like to see it before the end of summer.
VO 1.8.255 includes:

- Delivery missions now only deliver to stations and not capships.
- Virtual keyboard can now be turned off on the Ouya version.
- Added Amazon Appstore In-App Purchasing.
- Improved tab order for UI controls.
- Fixed corruption when only one light source is in the scene.
- Basic control support for the NVIDIA Shield.

More substantial updates will be appearing, including some gameplay tweaks and graphical changes. See last week's Development Status newspost for more information.
Hi Everyone. It's been a few weeks since we've posted much in the way of news or updates, and I wanted to check in real quick and bring you all up to date with what's been going on.

Among other things, E3 was last week in Los Angeles (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, one of the bigger gaming-related conference), and I was out there, briefly demoing the game on the OUYA and speaking to business partners. It was a useful trip, and while I can't talk about most of the business discussions (under Non-Disclosure Agreements), I can say that we unexpectedly received a Gamestick device as well, and will most likely be supporting that, as Vendetta Online should "just work" on it out of the box (the Gamestick is an Android-on-console device, similar to the OUYA).

I'll drop a quick mention that we received an Oculus Rift not long before I headed to LA, and we already have a simple prototype of the game that can be played on the VR headset. Our current implementation is far from elegant, but we do intend to release support for this system after we've improved our UI experience a little. If you have a Rift devkit, or plan on buying the retail version, keep an eye out for the VO support; it'll hopefully happen in the not-too-distant future.

We've also been intensely busy in development. We had some opportunities come up in the last couple of months, to do some development for outside parties that will also help the game in various ways, particularly in graphics optimization. These opportunities provide chunks of funding that will allow us some extra time to take on larger development tasks. These funds are quite helpful, because the big gameplay development cycles tend to also have a large associated burn rate on funds.

To look at this another way, I'm still targeting the same set of Kickstarter goals that I laid out in the videos back in January, but with a modified timeline, funded by a handful of brief external development deals. The result has slowed visible game development for a little while, but the payoff allows us to then focus much more intently on some of the "Big Gameplay Goals" that we know are going to take some time. In my world, "money" and "development time" are interchangeable; and since I don't have a zillion dollar Kickstarter or other windfalls, I have to juggle other opportunities to let us evolve Vendetta Online into the experience of our dreams.

We are planning some meaningful gameplay changes for the near future. There has been quite the clamoring on the forums for enhancements to capship usage, allowing Trident owners to switch to controlling turrets and such. We've certainly heard that loud and clear.

Dynamically Conquerable Stations can expect to see continued tinkering. The turret sizes need to be increased, along with some potential gameplay improvements like a countdown at the final docking attempt, to make the last stage of conquest a little more exciting.

We will also continue to tweak some of the concepts of Temp KoS and automated factional defenses. As our Vets are well aware, there's still work to be done on the factional balance, as well as informing pilots of danger when they cross the Grayspace borders, and generally making sure the "gradient" of security (or, often, non-security) is striking the right chord throughout all space.

But lastly, the current plan for the "Next Big Thing" still remains the same: tools for constructing more complex persistent NPCs, available to both developers and PCC members. Obviously we have a number of persistent characters already, with various dialogue, but I want to see a far richer galaxy filled with traders and miners and mercenaries and pirates, each of whom has their own unique story to tell, and all of whom contribute to the life of our universe.

On the face of it, this may seem like a toolset that is limited to relatively simplistic use cases, but when coupled with our existing (and, currently, under-utilized) "Kourier" subsystem that manages millions of persistent NPCs at once.. this toolset will have major endgame ramifications. Whole sub-factions and dynamic clans of NPCs engaged in various goals. Real targets for Trident Captains to take on with their friends, where outcomes have a distinct impact on the galaxy and are written into our history and lore.

It also ties into plans for the endgame economy and expanded galaxy, when the ability to hire NPC captains to run routes on your behalf, and supply your station with raw materials or trade goods, becomes a more critically relevant feature.

That about wraps up my report for this evening. Please keep us posted on any issues. We are highly aware and paying close attention, we've just been juggling a lot of travel and development lately.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

- John "Incarnate" Bergman
VO 1.8.253-154 includes:

- Increased conquerable stations' capture timeout from 2 minutes to 5 minutes.
- Adjustments to several weapon-based trade routes.
- Virtual keyboard preserves the currently-entered text if it is closed by a non-user action. For example jumping between sectors.

- Conquerable station turret hitpoints have been significantly reduced.
- Fixed crash on Android when Voice Chat is enabled.
- Android version uses a different timing function so timeouts shouldn't occur if the device's clock gets re-synced.
- Fixed issue with the joystick still controlling your ship if the virtual mouse mode is enabled.
- The virtual keyboard setting is now independent of the HUD touchscreen mode.
VO 1.8.251-252 up to tonight includes:


- Conquerable Station defense-turret armor reduced from 450k to 90k, making conquest an easier prospect.

*** Vendetta 1.8.252
- Improved game controller support for Android (including Ouya). Changed some of the default analog binds for new installations. For specifics of device support (including flightsticks), see the new sticky thread on the Android forum.
- Added a 'virtual mouse' that is controlled by the left stick with 'A' being the 'left mouse button'. Any other button will cancel the virtual mouse. You can press and hold 'A' to drag items or to long-press in the navmenu to create waypoints. Added D-Pad support in the virtual keyboard. Other controller buttons are shortcuts for different actions in the virtual keyboard. 'X' is backspace, 'Y' switches between symbols and alpha characters, 'L3' toggles Shift, 'R3' is space, 'L1' and 'R1' move the caret left and right. 'A' selects the active key, and 'B' cancels the virtual keyboard.
- Game controllers can now be connected to an Android device while the game is running and the controller will be automatically detected when any of the analog controls on the controller are moved.
- Added native support for game controller HID devices but requires an apk update.

*** Vendetta 1.8.251
- Added a new XAudio2 audio driver for Windows Vista, 7, 8 that should work across more hardware configurations. Existing players will need to change to that driver in Options->Audio->Change Driver... but will default to that driver on new installations.
- Fixed bug where some settings weren't being saved.
- Targeted Character Info menu now fits on smaller device screens.
- Account conversion menu now allows for choosing an account name instead of using the auto-generated one.
- iup.image has returned for use in UI plugins.

I've been a little behind on posting some of our patch updates to news, but in particular the recent joystick changes needed to undergo some testing before we announced them. However, at this point we're pretty excited by the options the new joystick support will give to Android players, and we highly recommend they check out the sticky-thread on the Android forum.

Although support for joysticks might seem to be a secondary goal compared to game mechanics, these developments are needed for some time-sensitive co-marketing relationships and other opportunities to help raise the profile of the game. And, as a whole, they should make it that much easier for our Android players to be competitive with the PC userbase.

Many other tweaks and fixes have also been added, and we're currently also trying to track down a bug that is causing sporadic crashes for certain specific Android players. This has not yet been resolved, but we're working on it. Thanks everyone, have a great weekend!
VO 1.8.250 includes:

- Fixed issues with low framerate on all platforms when getting damaged repeatedly, shooting ammo-based weapons, or collecting ore.
- Added tilt calibration menu in Options->Advanced->Controller-> Accelerometer for accelerometer-enabled devices (iPad and WinRT devices need to wait for an update in their respective stores).
- Added Premium In-App product purchases for iOS and Android versions.
- Serco Vulture Guardian is now available at level 3, giving access to iPad players and other "Lite" subscribers.

Most of these changes went into effect on Monday, the SVG was updated yesterday, but we're a little behind on formally announcing the updates. I wanted to propagate them onto News to give everyone a heads-up, particularly in regards to the Vulture, which is a pretty major ship availability improvement for our "Lite" mode playerbase.

We have more updates queued up, but we need to wait for the new iOS version to be passed by Apple before pushing them out.

Have a great weekend everyone, and be sure to check out some of the Events!
We're proud to announce that iOS has joined the family of platforms supported by Vendetta Online, launching today for the iPad2 or newer (including the Mini!), with at least iOS 5.x. Those interested may immediately obtain the game from the iPad App Store:

Additionally, some may be curious to read the early positive reviews, such as MMORPG's first look at the game. If you do purchase the game, we'd really appreciate it if you'd consider posting a positive review on the App Store! We need all the help we can get.

The iPad version is a fully 1:1 native port of the production game, with the addition of support for Retinal devices and iOS GameCenter. We've also put some time into polishing the introductory new user experience and the overall flight interface, and we hope you like it. The game does also support external keyboard control and other options, and as always we'll be continuing to polish and improve the game as we move forward.

The game is a $0.99 purchase on the App Store, including a free month of "Lite" mode access (capped at level 3, can't be a Guild officer) for the first "single-click" account created with the installed copy. Existing subscribers can log into their current accounts normally (the free month only applies to new accounts). In App Purchase makes additional "Lite" subscription time available for $1/month.

As always, please feel free to give us feedback about the new fledgling platform and device support. We've created a new "iOS" forum for exactly that kind of discussion. Any major bugs should be posted to the Bugs forum or submitted via a Support Ticket if privacy is a concern.

Thanks Everyone!
In preparation for the upcoming launch of Vendetta Online for iPad, we're doing some server architecture testing which may result in sporadic outages over the coming weekend. In particular, outages are likely between 10am and Noon central time on Saturday the 6th.

We will be temporarily moving the game from our own local server hardware to a virtualized configuration in the "cloud", to test the option in the event of extreme scalability needs. Then on Sunday night, we'll migrate the game back to our local server cluster. Any outages will hopefully be brief, and this testing will make the game more stable for the future.

Once the game is up and running on the optional cloud server on Saturday, please report any new gameplay issues on the Bugs Forum. Thanks for your help!
VO 1.8.244 includes:

- Initial mission list updates are much faster now.
- Error message when attempting to create a guild on a Lite Mode account.
- Fixed some UI issues with large fonts.
- Faction logo in station menu is now clickable. The faction's description in the faction standings menu is displayed.
- Fixed Australian Lite Mode purchase price.
- Revamped virtual keyboard. It looks different and should allow for faster typing.
- Increased the polygon count of background planets
- Improved checkbox, radio button, and access key item UI images.
- Planet textures now get unloaded when they're not used to conserve memory unless Cache Resources setting is enabled.
- Added an option (disabled by default) to alert about npcs entering/leaving the station bar.
- New characters are automatically joined to chat channels 11 and 100 and keep their active channel as 1 when they leave the training sector.
- Improved long-press for touch devices to drag-drop addons between your ship ports and inventory in the Ship Configuration menu.
- Moved some Options menu items into an Advanced Options menu for mobile devices.
- Signup button in Advanced Options menu now goes to the account conversion menu if your auto-generated account hasn't been converted yet. This removes some confusion by new players.
- Selecting 'Route' on a non-local mission sets it up to automatically pop up the mission dialog when you dock to that station. If you change your navroute or log off, the info is currently lost. If you dock to a different station and take another mission, the info is lost. If the mission becomes unavailable while you are en-route, when you dock, you will be notified that the mission is not available at that time.
- A username history is now available in the login menu. Select the arrow to the right of the username entry field to see the list and select a previous one. Because this is a new feature, the history will initially be blank. To edit/clear the history, you must edit your config.ini file with a text editor. The history can be used to recover a new auto-generated account before it is converted if an existing account is used to log in.
- Changed the in-station camera views that are seen behind the station menu. The training sector's camera is placed in a better position.
- Changed the message that is displayed when docking with a capship.
- Fixed a bug with Lua/IUP that was causing some invalid IUP handle errors.
- Fixed a rare Android crash on certain devices when attempting to initialize the audio system.

We have more changes in the pipe, we just wanted to get these out there and make sure they're tested. Please post any issues you see on the Bugs forum and we'll look into them right away. While the above list does mention some "planet" related improvements, the really noticeable graphical updates to the planets have NOT yet been released, and will be in an upcoming patch.

For those interested, we may also be offering a beta program for the upcoming iPad version in the near future, so keep an eye out for that (information will be posted when available).
Yes, you read that correctly. After several threads of suggestions from the userbase, prodding us to do this, we built an extensive Kickstarter Campaign to support a launch of the game on the iPad, plus the VO 1.9 milestone late in the year. If this is something you'd like to see, please consider helping us promote the campaign. I consider it to be a pretty good value, given that we're including massively-discounted subscription time, plus a number of cool rewards!

For those interested, there's also a high-quality (1080p HD) version of the Kickstarter video available here:
VO 1.8.242 includes:

- Fixed wrong login menu being shown if you log in with a normal account and you had created a one-click account.
- Added Local Faction standing to targeted player info menu.
- Added ability to turn on/off complex shaders on Android version. It requires a restart of the game.
- Fixed bug with one DirectX 9 shader causing some station components to have the wrong lighting under certain conditions.
- Scaled down the jump-out effects of capships.
- NPC capships no longer suddenly twist their rotation when they jump out.
- Delivery missions will no longer remove items immediately unless all items needed are present. However, entering the destination station will remove all the mission items you currently have, even if you don't have all of the required items. This allows one to take the mission to see what items are needed without any items actually being delivered. The mission considers you to have entered the station under these circumstances: Docking, logging in while in a station, and respawning at your home station.

Look for a big announcement tomorrow..
VO 1.8.241 includes:

- Fixed delivery missions so they now take items from your inventory without you having to launch and dock again.
- Fixed Android virtual keyboard being too long if the text being edited is too long. Added right/left arrow buttons to move the text cursor.
- Fixed UI being slightly too wide on some aspect ratios/resolutions.
- Increased robustness of the Android version, and added crash detection and compatibility mode. Compatibility mode includes lower texture quality and simpler shaders.

A big announcement should be coming later this week..
VO 1.8.240 includes:

- Improved long press to add waypoints to navmap. The waypoint is added immediately after the long press instead of waiting until the press is released.
- Fixed default font size on Kindle Fire HD 7" tablets so the station menu isn't clipped off the right side of the screen.
- Fixed some lua errors.
- You will now be sent to Corvus if your home station and nation hate you instead of being bounced back and forth between stations.
- Temp KOS is now properly removed when you die in an empty sector.
- If you acquire Temp KOS with your home station's faction, your home is moved to your nation's capital or Corvus if you are hated by your nation.
- Increased convoy activity in station sectors: this is an ongoing testing process that will begin over this weekend. It may not appear immediately, but should solidify over the coming week.
Free play for previous subscribers! Happy holidays everyone. Anyone subscribed at any time in our history, prior to this past October, may now play for free through the new year. Have fun!

VO 1.8.239 includes:

- Fixed blank screen on certain Android tablets when running in joystick-support mode.
- Fixed joystick configurations getting reset every time VO is run.
- Fixed the problem with certain missions being displayed that cannot be taken.
- When cancelling chat in touch-screen mode, the chat entry box in the HUD is also closed.
- Added long-press support for the navmap to add waypoints. The long-press is .5 seconds.
- Added a one-click mode for mobile devices to create a guest account without having to enter user info, which allows new players to get into the game quickly. A conversion menu is in place to add required information before you can convert the account to a subscription. A Windows Store update is required for one-click support on Windows 8, which is forthcoming.
- Changed 'Android Market' references to 'Google Play' for the Android version.
The current Newsletter is now going out via email, recapping the development we've made since the last newsletter (some time ago) and laying out some of our plans for how we intend to use these improvements to expand the game moving forward.

If you didn't receive a copy of the email (it can take a couple of days to get through, sometimes), double check your Account Settings, your spam folder, and try adding to your address book to reduce the chances of it being flagged as spam.

Otherwise, you can also take a look at it online here:

As always, we're offering free play for all former subscribers (anyone whose account expired prior to October 1st), from December 24th through January 1st. We'll try to pull together some events during this time as well. Take care all, and have a Happy Holiday!
VO 1.8.238 includes:

- A massive new 39-mission tree, developed collaboratively by a group of our PCC members, organized and evangelized by Phaserlight. Many thanks and congrats to him, as well as Pizzasgood and everyone else who contributed to building and testing these missions!
- Graphics updates for the standard cargo-crate have been totally updated with a new asset. We will eventually also use this crate at multiple sizes to visually indicate crates that have larger quantities of items or use more cubic units of space.

A couple of other changes were also intended for this update, but needed to be pushed back for further testing. So those can likely be expected next week. Have a great weekend, everyone, and please post any issues to the forums.
VO 1.8.237 includes:

- Enhanced password security. Maximum password length has been increased to 64 characters.
- Fixed problem with video options not getting saved.
- Increased default settings for Adreno 320-based Android devices.
- Removed storms in Deneb.

The biggest news in this update are the major security improvements added with our new password handling system. Note: In order to take advantage of these improvements, you MUST update your password on the game website. We don't prevent you from re-using your old password, but we strongly recommend taking advantage of the new 64-character password length by making a fairly long, memorable passphrase using random words, the benefits of which are described in this famous xkcd comic. In fact, an xkcd fan even created this common word password generator to serve that purpose.

For those interested in the technical details, I'll elaborate a little more. The old password system was quite state of the art for the time when it was created (the late 90s), albeit with far too short of a password character limit. The new design is very much like the old one, which was always similar to bcrypt, but is now enhanced with bcrypt's ability to increase the password CPU-cost in the future. This will let us react to the changing landscape of possible brute-force attacks, and increase security dynamically as necessary (and informing our userbase of the changes if/when they should occur). The current CPU cost is designed to take half a second for the game client to hash on a 1ghz NVIDIA Tegra2-based mobile device. We intend to also thread the client's hashing of passwords, to make the computation process less intrusive on the user interface, at which point we may increase the cost further.

Beyond this, we've improved the cryptographic randomness of the unique salt used to strengthen each password hash, as well as the nonce used to mitigate replay attacks. These have always been features of the protocol, we've just updated and improved them.

In addition, the game server and website still retain the measures to slow down any remote brute-force password attacks, which we added some time ago to mitigate the password length limitations we had at the time.

Of course, all of these technical measures are in vain if the end-user chooses a password that is too short and too easy for computers to guess. So please consider making a new and longer password for the game, perhaps a phrase of random words, and keep it unique to Vendetta Online! Don't use it anywhere else.

In other news, we enhanced the default settings for devices with the Adreno 320 GPU used in the Nexus 4, Asus Padfone 2 and other recent devices. These settings are utilized on first runtime, so existing Nexus 4 players may wish to delete their config.ini and wgaf.cfg from /sdcard/VendettaOnline and allow the game to re-configure itself.

We wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all our US players, and a great weekend to everyone!
VO 1.8.236 includes:

- Added touch-to-select HUD feature to Android version. Just touch the target (making sure no other touch region is touched) and it is selected, depending on your HUD's "Target" mode.
- Reduced network traffic when logging in.
- Storms once again appear in Edras and Pelatus.
- Fixed problem with Trade Guild mission choosing wrong destination stations.
- Added code to the audio system to fix missing sound on some Windows Vista/7/8 desktop computers.

It is also noteworthy that an updated Windows Store build of the game (for Windows 8 and Windows RT) has also passed certification with Microsoft, which enhances the default graphics on Intel Ultrabooks and fixes a number of bugs. It should also be possible to use plugins with this version, by placing them in the /user/your name/AppData/Packages/<vo package>/LocalState folder.
VO 1.8.234 and 1.8.235 include:

- Fixed ice asteroid rendering problem on the Windows Store version.
- Improvements to deal with higher latency connections.
- Android version should no longer show a black screen if you press Home
during the initial loading screens.
- Added Options button to the PDA menu.

The "improvements to deal with higher latency connections" should substantially help with logging into the game and acquiring the dynamic mission data on mobile devices and for those playing outside the US.
VO 1.8.233 includes:

- New visual effects for Starflare rocket explosion.
- Support for MOGA game controller for the Android version.
Upon first launch, a MOGA menu will show what the controls are bound to.
The menu is also available from the HUD by typing /help in chat.

Our support for the recently-launched PowerA MOGA bluetooth game controller is worth noting. We've found this device to be a very cool way to play the game on an Android phone, providing perhaps the best mobile Vendetta Online experience we've seen to date. We have no vested interest in their success, this referral stems purely from our usage and impressions of the Moga, and our desire to see mobile gaming evolve to match the technical capabilities of modern devices. Flying with the controller still takes some getting used to, and it isn't a replacement for a mouse and keyboard; but Moga is a huge improvement over a touchscreen, and superior (in my opinion) even to the Xperia Play.

We hope you like the new Starflare rocket effects. We have some more improved effects in the works that were actually patched into the game tonight, but we need to do a bit more development before they can become visible in the game.
VO 1.8.232 includes:

- New visual effects for Iceflare and Sunflare rocket explosions.
- Linux64 version now has experimental multithreaded rendering and physics support.

We hope you'll enjoy the new Sunflare and Iceflare rocket explosions. We intend to eventually add graphical differentiation for all the major weapons, to add variety and make it more visually apparent what weapons are in use, even in the midst of combat.

The new multi-threaded engine is being tested first on Linux64 to give us a smaller, yet technologically savvy, subset of the userbase for this initial release pass. As time goes on, we'll expand the engine release to include other platforms. The new engine makes extensive use of threading for physics, rendering, collision detection and response. In early testing this has substantially improved performance and scalability on systems with multi-core CPUs. As even cellphones are now offered with as many as four CPU cores, this client scalability is beneficial all the way from mobile to high-end PCs. It also lays the groundwork for us to further evolve our graphical and game content, leading to a grander and more epic galaxy.
VO 1.8.231 includes:

- New visual effects for Mining Beams.
- Fixed Linux joystick calibration menu.
- Fixed rare "invincible" Hive Queens.
- Fixed common case where Linux crash-reporter would fail to appear.
- Orun Collectors in the training sector no longer leave.

Anyone involved in mining should see a pretty drastic improvement in the related visual effects, marking the latest graphical update to the game. We think the new effect is pretty cool, and thus far the feedback as been very positive from all of you as well.

The engine threading updates are still ongoing, we hit a few snags that have further delayed the tentative initial release, hopefully we'll be seeing them on Friday.
As of today we officially announced the release of Vendetta Online for Windows 8 (x86, x64) and Windows RT (ARM). The game is offered with support for traditional desktops and notebooks, hybrid Ultrabooks with touchscreens, as well as touch-only tablet devices, and can be found in the Windows Store. The Windows 8 build includes specialized support for the new Snapped and Filled screen configurations (as well as the usual full-screen mode), plus other specialized Windows 8 options. Ongoing improvements will continue as Windows 8 devices are released, but we're proud to see the game debut on a new platform.

For more coverage of the launch, see Massively, The Verge, RageZone, Gamasutra, and others.
It has been recently reported that PlaySpan, a major credit card and payment clearinghouse commonly used in the MMO world, has suffered a serious security breach. Vendetta Online is largely unaffected by this issue.

Our sole relationship with PlaySpan is their ownership of the PayByCash, who we offer as a payment option. However, using the PayByCash system only exposes the account name of the user, and never their password or any other information (much like PayPal and other systems). We do not share password data outside of our company. Ever.

Users who paid via PayByCash could only be affected by this compromise if they chose to use the same password on both the PayByCash site as well as their Vendetta Online account. If that is the case, we recommend changing both to new and unique passwords as soon as possible.

If you have never used PayByCash at all, there is no reason for concern.

- Guild Software, Inc.
VO 1.8.230 includes:

- New icons for mission categories.
- New visual effects for the Charged Cannon.
- Fixed Joystick calibration menu on Mac version.
- Fixed crash on Android version when attemping to see what commands the accelerometer is bound to in the console.

This update debuts the new icons for mission categories, which are intended to be stylistically consistent with those we recently added for station classes. The visual effects for the Charged Cannon have also been modestly improved. Moving forward, we'll be continuing to improve effects and other visual aspects, making more significant and graphically intensive improvements as time goes on.

Gameplay changes and bugfixes are also coming, but are still being delayed by a need to wrap up some of the major architectural work we undertook this past summer. Hopefully the updated game engine will debut this coming week on a limited selection of platforms, bringing with it improved scalability, and openig the door for a lot of future gameplay, content, and graphical improvements.
VO 1.8.229 includes:

- Added station type logos that indicate whether the station is a type: Capitol, Barracks, Mining, etc.
- Added more default joystick configurations for the Android version.
- When a player flying a capship times out, the players docked to it are no longer killed. They are now launched from the capship.

Along with the new factional logos added recently, the new station class icons give a quick view of where you're docked, along with adding a little more cultural coherence to the game universe. We will be continuing to add this kind of art content over the coming months. Next week should include a new weapon effect, as well as a first-generation test of some major engine architecture changes.
VO 1.8.228 includes:

- Added faction logos to the respective descriptions in the Faction Standings section of the PDA.
- Added default binds to the Logitech F710 gamepad for Android.
- Fixed possible crashes on Android Jelly Bean (requires Google Play or sideload apk update).

We have more art content in the works that didn't make it into this version, which you can probably expect next week. As always, please let us know if any issues crop up.
VO 1.8.227 includes:

- New minor faction logos in station menus.
- Temp KOS for a faction was not being applied if it was already active for another faction.
- Players who damage themselves and then get killed by someone else no longer get a PK assist.

These new "minor" faction logos, for the corporations and other entities, help to build on the major nation logos we released last week. Beyond this, you'll soon see icons for station classes, as we expand our graphical content and tie that further into the general ongoing story of the galaxy.
VO 1.8.226 includes:

- New Trade Reparation missions, allowing recovery of standing to "Dislike" with a minor faction for a 20 million credit payment (once per week usage limit). Thanks to TheRedSpy.
- New nation logos. The new logos appear in the character creation menu and in the upper-right corner of the menus for the stations of the three nations.
- Fixed a bug with capship menus not showing mission timers.

This marks the debut of our new logos for the Serco, Itani and UIT major nations. There are also more simplified B&W versions for other uses down the road. You can also expect to see a number of other logos introduced in the near future, for the various minor factions and corporations, along with icons to denote the station classes. This, along with a lot of other work going on behind the scenes, is part of an initiative to expand and improve the graphical content of the game, and add in some long-planned aspects of factional differentiation.
VO 1.8.224 includes:

- Enhanced ship explosion effects.
- Snapdragon splashscreen is displayed when a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is detected.
- Fixed a lua error in the off-line Android demo/tutorial.
- Preliminary backend support for Windows RT.

Users should find that the most commonly-seen explosions, used for smaller fighter craft, hive ships and most NPCs, are now updated to a higher graphical standard. As we move forward we're going to continue tweaking and improving a lot of our graphics, with the goal of substantially improving the "look" of the game during this year. In some cases, that may result in specialized effects that only appear on PC platforms with faster videocards, where the mobile versions retain the older effects that are better suited to lower-performance devices. However, whenever we can we'll be raising the level of detail and polish across all platforms, as we have with this latest change.

This update also mentions our upcoming support for Windows RT and Windows 8 Metro. While Vendetta Online had already been pretty widely reported as one of the demos on this platform, we've still had some ongoing development to prepare us for submission to the Microsoft Store and have the game appear on new Windows 8 devices. We'll go into a bit more more detail about our presence on Windows RT and Windows 8 in our next email newsletter.

Until then, keep an eye out for new updates, and please post any issues you find on the forums. Thanks everyone.
VO 1.8.220 through 1.8.223 highlights included:

- New accounts now are free to play in the training sectors until the trial time begins. The trial time begins the first time any of your characters leave the training sector.
- Added an idle-timeout of 30 minutes and a captcha challenge every 6 hours in the training sectors for free-to-play accounts.
- Added ability to enter promotional keys to the in-game new account signup menu for the Android version.
- To reduce lag problems, the training sectors are now instanced when they fill up too many players or the load exceeds a certain value.
- Fixed audio problems on Windows Vista/7 for surround or 7.1 (anything more than stereo) setups.
- Your home station info is now properly updated when your home station is forcefully set by the server.
- Added subscription support through the Google Play Store. Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher and an app update is required for full support.
- It is now possible to create new accounts for the game within the game client on Android.
- Fixes for the in-appp account creation captcha. It now uses lower-case letters.

We've been quiet for the last few months. A lot of intensive development has been going on, which has not been public, and I've personally spent some time on business trips. The above touches on a few of the things we've released, but I want to go into a little more detail for those who haven't been following closely.

Free to Play training sectors: Instead of starting the clock on the new user's trial from the moment they enter the game, we now start it when they leave the training sector. This gives them a less pressured experience for initially figuring things out, and hopefully will let them use their trial more effectively.

The scalability changes (training sector instancing) are also paramount and should be very useful with launches coming later in the year.

In other news, we've hired a new full-time artist, who is currently working on some new graphics and effects content for the game. It's my plan to revamp a lot of the game art, interface and effects this year.

More announcements and releases are forthcoming, but for right now I'm just going to leave it at that and cover the recent history. As always, please post any issues you find on the forums. Have a great weekend, everyone.
VO 1.8.219 includes:

- 'Entering Universe' takes time on your first post-release login, but is much faster from then on.
- Fixed problem with leaving the gunnery position of a ship while that ship is docked to an npc capship. You are now sent to your home station.
- Removed Voice Chat errors from in-game chat log. They now only appear in the errors.log file.
- All finished Border and Hive Skirmishes should now be removed from the mission list.

We still intend to improve the "initial" login length for new users, which currently downloads a lot of dynamic mission data. However, for our existing users this patch should be a major improvement.
VO 1.8.217 includes:

- Added a progress indicator in the "Entering Universe..." dialog.
- The F9 camera mode toggle now toggles through the 3rd person modes in the correct order.

We will still be further optimizing the "lengthy login" issue that was created by all missions being available from everywhere. In the meantime, the addition of a progress graph will help to tell people that their game client is taking a bit longer to log in.

People should also be aware that quite a few Events are scheduled for this weekend. Be sure to stop by and check them out!
It was 10 years ago that Penny Arcade first linked to us as we began the completely-public stage of our game's never-ending development. For us, this was a huge transition, marking the moment when we had our first influx of users, and when we ceased to be a "theoretical" game and became an actual live service with a vibrant audience. Some of those players from 2002 are still here with us today, sometimes indicated with their special character badges. It has been an incredible and humbling experience to come to know many of our players, watching young teenagers become adults, seeing entire families playing together across three generations (grandparents, parents, grandkids). Since the launch of Vendetta Online for Android last March, we've had users playing from their bus commute through the jungles of Thailand (where, apparently, they have great cell coverage). We have come this far thanks largely to the unflagging support and dedication of our player base, always pushing us to make the game a little better with each passing week, and for this we are very grateful. To our players, past and present: thank you, this anniversary is really about you.

The landscape of the MMO market has changed vastly since our initial public release in 2002, and even more since we started on this journey. I first posted about our game's development on our early website back in February of 1997. By then we already had an engine and a prototype game in internal testing, with which we had been tinkering in spare time since 1996; but we had never even heard the term "MMORPG", coined shortly thereafter by Origin's Richard Garriott. Ultima Online, the game whose widespread popularity arguably launched the modern MMO genre, wouldn't even be released for another half a year. I had only the idea that I wanted to make this "huge, online space game", where people would fly around in a persistent world and share in much of the gameplay I associated with classic single-player titles, like Tie Fighter or Wing Commander. We knew this was technically possible, but no one was around to tell us how hilariously difficult or lengthy the process would be, especially with a development team of only four people building such a game and engine from scratch. Perhaps that's just as well, as they might have dissuaded us from the pursuit, which has definitely been an amazing and educational experience.

There have been definite challenges in bringing an indie MMO to market with such a small development team, then maintaining and expanding a live product throughout the years; but this makes us all the more proud to be where we are today, and to have seen such a wonderful community grow up around our title. I don't think any MMO is ever really "finished", and ours is no exception; but our plans for the coming year and the eventual launch of Vendetta Online 2.0 are intended to finally fulfill much of the original game vision from the late 1990s. Of course, the original vision never included things like our current playability on now-common smartphones, which will make this all the sweeter.

By way of a small thanks to our userbase, this weekend will offer free play to all previously subscribed players, along with a number of special Events, starting with a special developer-hosted event this evening. For those interested, we also shipped a press release, which has also been picked up by our friends over at Massively. You can expect some other cool promotions to launch in the coming week.

Thank you, and Happy Anniversary Everyone!

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Guild Software, Inc.
VO 1.8.214-216 has included:

- All missions that you can take are now visible, across the galaxy. Each mission shows the nearest station to you that has the mission.
- Serco/Itani and Valent/Axia factions are now mutually exclusive above Neutral. All players with characters that violate this are given the option to select on which factions they want keep their standings.
- Temp KOS now persists across logins and sector jumps for 15 minutes.
- If your ship is jittering while you are stopped, you should now be able to log off without the log off timer aborting.
- 3rd-person camera now moves away from your ship instead of towards your ship when you accelerate.
- Capships can no longer dock to small docking bays.
- Fixed crash on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) when attempting to use a plugged-in joystick.
- Added 'Route' button to the mission extended description dialog when the mission is not at the local station. Pressing it will create a nav route to the station with the mission and display the navmap.
- Missions no longer lose their category when they are accepted.
- Fixed problem with faction choice dialog not displaying properly or displaying with clipped text.

Clearly, to our veteran player base, the last few releases have included some quite significant changes. Certain faction standings being mutually exclusive has been desired for a long time; this is only the first step in that factional redux, but a very important step. Temporary Kill On Sight status persisting across logins and sector jumps will make things more immediately challenging for those who choose to behave aggressively at stations.

All missions becoming visible from everywhere is a huge step forward in making our game content more discoverable to players (especially new players). But this is only the beginning of our goals for a centralized mission system. Player-postable missions will become available, helping people find one another for specific activities, like posting a mission for someone to help hunt the Hive or take down a Leviathan, or find a combat escort for a dangerous trade run. As player-owned stations become more common, users will be able to post missions to their own stations, requesting deliveries of raw materials for their Manufacturing projects, or simply replenishment of other items to support their guild or common gameplay.

We hope you are as excited about these changes as we are, to us they're only the tip of the iceberg.
VO 1.8.213 includes:
- The ship in 3rd person camera mode no longer jitters at low frame rates.
- Joining or creating a group when you have an active mission will now tell you to complete or abort the mission instead of immediately aborting the mission without warning.
- Updated Lua to 5.1.5.
- The HAC explosion effects are now pre-cached so the demo doesn't stutter the first time it explodes.

We have a lot of significant changes in the works, which will hopefully debut next week.
VO 1.8.212 includes:

- Fixed rendering problems on Samsung Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Note.
- Sector list now properly updates when a player is controlling a turret of a capship after the capship has changed sectors.
- Storm exit navpoints now appear when leaving a station during a storm if the player logged in to the game and is in the station.
- Interface work for upcoming faction changes.

VO 1.8.211 included:
- Added support for Arm Mali devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. Support is currently only available through the sideload apk because the Android Market does not show VO as being available for those devices.

VO 1.8.210 included:
- Added ice effect for Kindle Fire.
- Fixed lua error when client connection times out when trying to create a new character.

Aside from this, I should recap some other developments from the last two weeks:

Vendetta Online released for the Kindle Fire

That's right, Amazon's wildly popular 7" Android tablet now has Vendetta Online available in the AppStore as a free download. This version includes some special graphics work to make things look as cool as possible on the Kindle Fire. The device actually runs the game pretty well, if you have one be sure and check it out. As with all our other ports, it logs into the same game universe, so you can pretty seamlessly switch from PC to Tablet to Phone and back.

Ongoing development of Faction System changes

Tonight's release includes some as-yet invisible menus and interfaces specific to the upcoming faction changes. The updated faction system will include degrees of mutual exclusivity to faction standing, meaning that one will no longer be able to maintain the highest standings with two factions that hate one another. These newly-added menus will permit the user to select, for any given character, which of the mutually-exclusive standings to keep at the higher level. This is primarily just to convert us over to the new system, once it is in place people will be expected to be aware of their relative standing changes.

More involved information about the mechanics of the new faction system and implementation specifics will be posted to Suggestions before the changes actually go into effect.

A nice new article about Vendetta Online on Massively

In a very unexpected and cool turn of events, a new article on Vendetta Online recently appeared on Massively. The reviewer appeared to enjoy his time in our galaxy, appreciating our strengths while also acknowledging of some of our weaknesses. Check out the article, it's worth a look.
VO 1.8.209 includes:

- Teller-Ulam mine changes: Timeout increased to 1 hour, damage increased to 15k, capacity increased to 2, reload cost reduced by half.
- Added ability for capship owner to dismiss a player from a turret through a new turret tab in the Tactical tab of the owner's PDA. Also added a /gunner dismiss "character name" and for lua a Gunner.Dismiss("character name") function.
- Capship turret list now shows what weapon is attached to each turret.
- HUD mission icon is removed when the mission ends.
- Loading screen image when changing texture resolutions is now properly scaled.
- Fixed screendump /dump command on Android devices.
- Tegra 3 Android devices now properly default to Super High background detail.
- Fixed some cases where a player may not receive their mission rewards while they are jumping/warping.
- New turret weapon: Gemini Homing Missiles. Same stats as non-turreted Geminis. Available in certain grayspace locations, to those with standing and required levels. This adds to the selection of existing turrets: Shield, FireCracker, Neutron MkIII, Gauss MkII, etc.

VO 1.8.208 included:

- Fixed problem with ice asteroids on Tegra 3 devices running Android 4.0
such as the Transformer Prime.
- Tegra 3 devices now render in 32bit mode

Please let us know how the various capship changes and turret weapons are working in practice. The factional change is still the top priority for major gameplay (perhaps next week?), but didn't make it in for this release.

As always, thanks for your support, and please post any issues to Bugs.
VO 1.8.207 includes:

- If nothing is selected, the target direction arrow now points to your next jump-out location (jumppoint, wormhole, storm exit point).
- Next jumppoint sector is now displayed above the navpoint reticle.
- Xperia Play now defaults to Flight-Assist mode for new installs.
VO 1.8.206 includes:

- Added new 3rd-person flight camera modes for all platforms. It is the default for new Android installs and can be changed in Options->Game->Flight Camera Mode Turn off mouse-look when using them on PC platforms.
- Added Auto-Fire mode for Android version when in Touch-screen mode for a better new-player experience. Auto-Fire is default to on and can be toggled in Options->Game->Auto Fire and is an optional setting for the 'Activate' HUD touch button. Auto-Fire only fires when the selected target is an enemy ship outside the No-Fire-Zone and is close enough to be hit. Only the Primary Group is hooked up to Auto-Fire.
- Flight-Assist mode now has the ability to fly backwards. When the desired speed is zero, pressing decelerate further will cause the ship to fly backwards.
- Android HUD touch regions no longer release when dragging out of them. This mainly affects the Look Direction touch region in the lower right of the HUD.
- Escort, Border Skirmish and Hive Skirmish missions are now aware of partial damage and will credit players for "assists."
- Border Skirmish mission descriptions now include an indication that there are players in the opposing mission.
- Fixed Trade Guild missions to count ore given to the mission as being sold to the station for Mining Badge credit.
- Fixed a broken docking bay in the Training Sector.

A Few Comments:

The addition of "reverse" to Flight Assist has been requested for a very long time, and we're happy to finally add it for all those who favor this control method.

Third-person flight might not seem that useful to experienced people on the PC, and aside from the control of capships, first-person remains the best option (especially for combat). However, for new users on phones and tablets, the display of the ship helps bring across a certain rapid understanding of distances and helps make the overall experience a little more intuitive. Playing VO on a touchscreen is no picnic to begin with, so these improvements are pretty meaningful. It is notable that there are actually two different 3rd-person control models available, which can be selected from the Game area of the Options menu.

The addition of auto-fire may cause controversy in some circles. Generally we aren't big on automating the control of weapons or flight. VO is a very skill-driven game, and we prefer to stay pretty close to the recipe. For touchscreens, however, some improvement needed to be found, to let people play with only two inputs (fingers/thumbs). Auto-fire allows one to aim with one hand, strafe/accel/decel with the other, while leaving the firing up to the client when the ship is properly pointed to the target's leadoff reticle. The improvement in combat usability on a tablet is pretty dramatic. One can actually do some low-level botting of collectors and the like. Touchscreen devices will still be hilariously crushed in PvP interactions, this is no real "advantage"; and in any case, I don't think serious PC pilots would use the feature anyway (auto-fire overuses energy by firing constantly at the maximum rate, and is generally wasteful and inflexible). But as far as basic PvE, the ability to take on some bots with a touchscreen and actually succeed, it is a night and day difference.

The Escort and Skirmish missions properly recording "Assists" is a big improvement in the fairness of allocating XP and the like. Plus, it is also another step towards having a lot of cool stats on the website, showing off the Skirmish skills of pilots.

Border Skirmish missions now indicating when people are playing them will hopefully make it a bit easier to locate other player-pilots within the Skirmish framework.

Thanks all, please report any issues you find on the Bugs forum (or the Android forum for Android-specific stuff).
VO 1.8.205 includes:

- Fixed crash on exit after changing certain Video Options on Mac/Windows/Linux versions.
- PCC Missions now have an optional Begin/End Time requirement that allows missions to be visible for a certain time.
- Ore taken by missions now count as being sold to the station for awards such as Basic Miner badges.
- Accomplishment and faction awards now cause the station Buy menus to update automatically so new items are available immediately.
- Added Front/Rear text labels to Front and Rear HUD radars that disappear when you hit Combat license 3. The labels are also togglable in Options->Interface->HUD->"Show Radar Labels when Combat < 3".

In addition to the above, another change should be mentioned that was accidentally left out of a previous patch log. We altered PvP collision damage to do only a fraction of the damage it did previously. Thus, when player ships ram other player ships, it does less damage than when they ram stations or NPCs. This was done to help alleviate a certain exploitative tactic of PvP killing designed to avoid faction loss in monitored or guarded space. The lack of faction loss for collision deaths was itself a previous work-around for a much older exploitative tactic where players could get others to lose their faction by suiciding themselves against their enemies. So, let's hope this latest alteration removes some of the issues for the moment, until some future problem is discovered stemming from players colliding too much (heh). Until then..

Have a happy new year, everyone!
VO 1.8.203-204 include:

- Five new PCC missions from Phaserlight.
- Added support for Sony Tablet P.
- Bots no longer attack their defend target if the defend target damages itself.
- Bots that damage their defend target no longer get attacked by other bots with the same defend target.
- New players are now notified when they fly too far away from the station in the training sector and will be given the option to return to the station.
- Newsposts accessed from the character selection menu are now properly formatted.

Holiday Gift to Past Subscribers

As has also been posted via our Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets.. past subscribers whose accounts expired before October 1st of this year, may now play for free through January 1st! Have fun!

Vendetta Online for Android Phones

For any who missed it, the official press release went out this past week, announcing Vendetta Online support for many Android phones (Tegra, Snapdragon, PowerVR), as well as the recently added Joystick and Voice Chat support in the Android version.
VO 1.8.201-202 include:

- Added joystick support for Android 3.1 and above.
- Added PLUGINS_LOADED plugin lua event that triggers after all
plugins are loaded.
- Fixed another bug with changing channels in Voice Chat.
- Added experimental Voice Chat for Android version.
- Added Heyzap Check in button to Android Updater.
- Fixed problems with switching between group and guild voice chat.
- Fixed problems with Border Skirmish.

On the face of it, this may not seem like that significant of a release. However, a few of the things added over the past week have some meaningful ramifications:

Joysticks for Android - The biggest complaint about playing VO on Android mobile devices is usually the control mechanics, especially when one attempts combat. Our touch interfaces will always be improving and evolving, but there's only so much that one can do with a touchscreen: it gives no tactile feedback (you don't "know" you've pressed the button by feeling it depress downward.. haptic shakes and things are not the same), and it gives no positional feedback (you don't know that your thumb is in the right place by the "feel" of the button). The custom interface on the Xperia PLAY does a little better in this regard, and keyboard-mode has always worked pretty well (Asus Transformer tablets, etc). But for the average phone or tablet owner, there have been limited options for good gameplay control.

Hopefully, joystick support will be a solid step towards improving that situation. General support for joysticks and gamepads was added in Honeycomb 3.1, only available to tablets, and unfortunately was only added for java-based Android "activities" (we prefer to use "native" activities, also something added in Gingerbread and Honeycomb, for potentially improved performance and reduced memory usage). So in order to support joysticks in the meantime, we had to come up with a way of spawning a java-based version of the game in cases where joysticks are desired. As of this release, you can plug in a joystick, then run the game. It will detect the presence of the joystick and offer you the option of running a java-based activity that will support the controller.

We've tested this with an Xbox 360 controller, an older Logitech wired-USB gamepad, as well as a flight stick and some other devices. We'll also eventually test it with the Logitech F710 wireless joystick. You still have to manually define and configure the joystick, setting up the axes and buttons and so forth, and use our not-super-intuitive joystick interface (we'll improve on that at some point), but it should work. We welcome feedback.

Now it is notable that joystick support is only present on Honeycomb 3.1 or better. Honeycomb is a tablet-only OS, and joysticks are not supported on Gingerbread (2.3), the more common phone OS. So for phones, anyone on less than the very recently released Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 (Galaxy Nexus) will be unable to use a joystick or a gamepad for the time being. As phones are upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, joystick support will be propagated out to more of the devices that need them. Also, you may need some sort of micro-USB-to-USB adapter to physically plug a joystick in to most of these devices. There are also bluetooth joysticks in development; we've heard some of the prototypes are working well, but we haven't personally used any yet.

Integrated Voice Chat for Android - This is still pretty high on the "testing" curve, and we've also juggling a few issues on the voice chat server (we made some big updates lately), so don't expect this to be 100%. However, we do have voice chat support in Android now. People will immediately ask things like "does it work with my bluetooth headset", etc. I honestly don't know. Things are still very early, we're mostly focused on "does it.. work." If you would like to play around with the released version, feel free. Be aware that voicechat can use significant bandwidth, far more than the game itself, so either play from Wifi or be sure you have some kind of unlimited data plan.

Where is all of this Going? - The goal is to eventually see phone-based devices as equal citizens in their ability to play Vendetta Online. Mobile support was always approached with the idea of the "best playability that we could manage", and the Android version has met (our) expectations of that. To date, it has been a great platform for checking in on the game while mobile, or doing some mining or lower-intensity missions. It has not been the best platform for involved combat, or especially PvP (arguably the strongsuit of our game). Hopefully joystick support will eventually help close the gap, and Voice Chat will add more equality to bigger game experiences (Border Skirmish, Guild activities, etc).

The end-run is to be able to really play the game no matter where you are. This could be sitting in a hotel room, with your phone hooked to the TV via HDMI (wireless HDMI is also coming), with a wireless mobile joystick hooked to your device. Or it could be with a tablet propped up on a table outside somewhere, and a wireless controller. Or it could be using a phone with one of those nifty little micro-projectors (which have been built into certain phones) to let you play the game on a "bigscreen" with any nearby wall. These cases are all basically possible now.

We want Gameplay Changes! - A fairly significant amount of our userbase is not super overjoyed by Android-exclusive changes, especially when they come (sometimes) at the expense of gameplay changes. We understand this. Please appreciate that the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is happening in January, this is a big deal for the electronics world, and can yield cool opportunities if we are able to showcase the game. For instance, CES earlier this year directly resulted in our presence in Verizon's Xoom TV launch ad. All that said, there will be more (and more significant) gameplay changes coming. As I said in-game the other day, fixing the faction system is currently slated as my Next Big Project. I'll post some reflections on the changes in the near future.

PLUGINS_LOADED event - This is something we added at the behest of those players who choose to also develop Lua-based plugins for the game (which, as of recently, also work on Android). This feature will help them create libraries of functionality, so one plugin can depend on others, rather than everyone having to re-invent the wheel. We will continue to expand and improve on the plugin system when we can (this was an easy change).

HeyZap for Android - HeyZap is a San Francisco based startup that maintains a kind of social network for mobile gaming. This makes it pretty easy to check in with friends and say that you're playing such-and-such a game, which is particularly beneficial for online and multi-player titles. It was an easy addition for us, and seems to have minimal annoyance for those who don't want to use it, so we thought it was worthwhile. The first time you run it without the HeyZap app being installed, you will see a message in the notification area about the benefits of HeyZap, but only the one time. You will not be bothered by it again, if it isn't your style, simply ignore the icon on the game launcher.

That's all for now, have a great weekend everyone!
VO 1.8.200 includes:

- Fixed a client crash when logging off while a capship shield effect is active at the same time.
- Hotkeys are removed from the Forgive Kill dialog so typing when the dialog appears does not cause accidental forgiveness.
- Removed extra PLAYER_ENTERED/PLAYER_LEFT_SECTOR lua events.
- Border Skirmish accounting will no longer be incorrect after server restarts.
- Consolidated bounty news reports now display correct locations.
- Best prices of addons in ship cargo are now properly updated when jumping between sectors.

Some much needed debugging and fixing across the general game, while we've also released stability improvements to the Android build in the background (Samsung-based PowerVR devices are reportedly working better, albeit with reduced graphical quality).
VO 1.8.199 includes:

- Bots no longer drop cargo if they are not damaged at all by players. If a player damages a bot but does not destroy it, cargo is still dropped.
- Nation choices are now randomized in the Character Creation menu.
- Added support for Android devices with PowerVR graphics.
- Further reduced raw materials needed to manufacture the Trident.
- Trident Type M cargo expanded to 600cu.
- Mass of Fused Composite Plating significantly reduced.

Bot Drops - We had developed a bit of an issue with people "farming" bot drops by having NPCs fight one another, and keeping the sector artificially "alive" by flying out into the distance. This was both troublesome for my ability to create rare drops that couldn't easily be farmed, as well as a load on the server (some of these NPC battles are pretty intensive, meaning server resources are being used where no one is actually playing).

Thus, the solution was to have bots only drop items when they have sustained damage from a player character. We didn't do that originally, in the interest of maintaining a kind of "equality" between PC and NPC characters, but it really wasn't worthwhile given the later tradeoffs.

Trident Changes - Hopefully this will make the tridents more easily constructable. We are planning more capship changes, but all development has to be juggled by immediate priority. To get a more complete list of what changed in the Trident Type M build tree, see this Suggestions Forum thread.

PowerVR support on Android - This is a big deal, and has been a long time coming. We had to put in quite a bit of work to make this happen, along with support from our friends at Texas Instruments (OMAP CPUs) and Imagination Technologies (PowerVR GPU series). We now support all the major game-capable Android chips, with the exception of ARM's problematic Mali GPU (Galaxy SII, etc), which may work with uncompressed textures. Currently, our official support includes NVIDIA Tegra, Qualcomm Snapdragon and now PowerVR (TI, Samsung). We welcome testing and reports (good or bad) posted to our Android Forum.

Happy Thanksgiving! - To all our US-based players, and frankly all our friends everywhere in the world. We have a lot to be thankful for. All the best.

This will be the planned "release" for this week (barring major bugs). Some of us have family events on different days, and while we'll still be working, this will probably be it for content changes until next week.
VO 1.8.198 includes:

- Avalon Torpedoes now do 15,000 damage and require only 60 energy per shot.
- Newsposts and Events being no longer marked as 'New' once it is read.
- Show Station in Login/PDA menus options for all platforms.
- Added graphical enhancements for NVIDIA Tegra 3.
- Fixed a condition where depositing credits into a guild bank took the player's credits but didn't deposit the credits into the guild account.

Please continue to post feedback about the Avalons and other areas to gameplay to the Suggestions forum. More changes are in the works.
VO 1.8.197 includes:

- In non-fogged sectors, other vessels are no longer visible on the sector list beyond 15km. There is no longer "universal knowledge" of all other ships in the sector, regardless of distance. This may continue to be tweaked and adjusted, moving forward.

This has been a more technically complex change than we originally anticipated. We tried to drop it in last week, and then had to revert while we sorted out some bugs. So, please let us know if you see any issues with this particular feature.

This is also likely to be a feature that comes with some attached controversy. If you'd like to read some of the backstory, check out the five-page 2009 feature-proposal thread on Suggestions (post don't respond to that thread or revive it). Limitations to awareness have always been part of the intended goal here; after all, with limitations comes the ability to alter those limits through various equipment changes, creating a richer and more diverse option selection, as well as making "stealth" tatics more of a possibility.

It's also notable that 15km is pretty far, in the game. We definitely have sectors that have things spread across larger areas, but in most "social" cases (like stations), this pretty easily covers the areas where people congregate. 15km is also a lot of ground to cover to "sneak up" on anyone.

Also, as a reminder, changes like this should be seen as a first step, not a final and absolute statement. We welcome feedback, as always. We may need to tweak distances, or change things based on sector content (beyond fog-vs-no-fog). Perhaps have major station sectors with larger "ranges" thanks to some radar-enhancing feature of stations, while more far-flung sectors have smaller and more claustrophobic visibility ranges (plus variability due to addons or ships, or grouping with capships, etc). All these things are possible, and should be duly discussed on the Suggestions Forum.
VO 1.8.196 includes:

- Arklan Guardians now have a one-in-ten chance of dropping an Avalon Torpedo launcher. They will eventually be for sale near Deneb as well, or potentially dropped by certain convoys; this is a first step.
- All platforms now default to autodock mode. This can be changed in Options -> Game Settings.
- Single-player Android tutorial now does autodock.
- Miscellaneous UI tweaks for Android version.
- Marshall only gives a list of bounties that have logged in within the past year.
- Bounties are sorted by number of bounties and then the total bounty price.
- Collector bot behaviour in Training sector have been changed to not attack unless being attacked and to not fly away as easily.
- Empty bounty news posts now say there were no bounties collected instead of being blank.
VO 1.8.195 includes:

- Drastically reduced requirements for manufacturing the Trident Type M user-playable capship. Various plating, panels and other parts are now needed in smaller numbers. A few additional rare minerals and ores are required, but overall a big reduction in the time and effort needed for construction.
- Additional cores added to server cluster, further expanding capacity.
- Added Updater timeout handling to Windows and Mac platforms.
- Auto Dock mode. Enabled by default for Android and disabled for all other platforms. It autodocks you when you fly into the docking bay without you having to 'Activate' it.
- Separate error messages for Android Updater for connection timeout vs. connection failures.

We welcome continued feedback on any of these changes, particularly that of the Trident Manufacturing. There will be two other trident types released in the not too distant future, but they did not make it into tonight's updates.

The auto-dock feature was mainly implemented to make the game a bit easier on a phone or touchscreen tablet, but is also kind of nice on a PC. It should be pretty helpful when trying to dock with a moving capship.

The updater-timeout changes should help improve connection resiliency, and also give users a bit more information to help debug connectivity problems relating to the game.
VO 1.8.194 includes:

- Updated universe map background.
- Updated textures for Leviathan, Hornet, Centaur, Wraith, Atlas, Ragnarok, Revenant, and some station components.
- Updater times out on Linux and Android platforms if the connection stalls for more than 40 seconds.
- Added different default settings for various Android devices.
- Consolidated Bounty Hunter news reports to once a week.

Graphics Updates - Texture resolution and detail have been improved where possible. In other cases, we simply improved efficiency and compression to reduce the memory footprint and give better performance. The new universe map background blends in better with the overall look of the game.

Updater / Game Launcher tweaks - We've made some changes to the timeout behaviour of the update client that patches the game, in an effort to improve network error handling. For the moment, these changes are only present on Linux and Android, but will eventually be added elsewhere. If you have any problems, please let us know via forum post or (if critical) a Support Ticket.

Bounty Hunter Consolidation - The automated bounty posts have been saturating the in-game news for some time, and we've now consolidated them to a single post which will appear once a week. This has been done in advance of making more significant use of the in-game news system, for special gameplay, more involved RP stories and other upcoming features.
VO 1.8.193 includes:

- Updated textures for Valkyrie, Prometheus, and Marauder.
- Expanded hardware server-cluster capacity (number of cores).
- Improved software server architecture, should eradicate "stray NPC" issues. Please let us know if you see any remaining stray convoy bots.
- User Keys can no longer be chosen as the main Access Key for capships and conquerable stations.
- Access Keys should more accurately reflect their active status in the Keychain UI.
- Added Audio Limiter setting to allow it to be disabled. The setting is located in Options -> Audio.
- Changed default in-flight action for Android device 'Menu' button from toggling Flight-Assist to opening the Mission Log.
- When using the Condensed UI mode on Android devices, a reminder about using the 'Menu' button to change game menus is displayed when the station or PDA menus are displayed.
- Fixed a bug that allowed the capship Tactical menu to become visible on ships without turrets.
- Improved race track graphics.

Like the changelog says, we should hopefully have addressed any problems with stray convoy bots or NPC capships sitting in random areas of space. If you should see anything like this, or experience any other issues, please let us know. If the problem is critical, please submit a Support Ticket to get our attention more quickly. Thanks!
VO 1.8.192 includes:

- Xang Xi Self-Propelled Concussion Mine now has double the ammo (8), double the proximity radius (60m) and costs 1/10th to reload (10k per ammo).
- Turbo sound effect modified to remove slight repeating pop noise on long duration usage.
- Improved graphics for system backgrounds in Navigation interface.
- Better visual quality for compressed textures on Snapdragon devices.
- Made improvements to server stability and robustness, relating to sector startup and shutdown.

More Graphics and Asset Tweaks - The system backgrounds in the Nav interface will look a bit different to most, but the degree of resolution will only be apparent by zooming in or with a very high resolution monitor (30-inch). However, even with the maps at four times the previous resolution, they're occupying half the video memory as previously. Plus, we have long-term intentions for these higher resolution assets.

Server Side Changes Ongoing - We're still tracking and fixing some NPC related bugs, and re-working the way we handle certain types of database access. You should not be seeing any more "stuck" sectors, as we had pop up in the last week (this was an unintended side-effect of debugging the convoy problem). Please let us know if you see any problems, and use the Support Ticket system if you need to reach us more quickly.

Thanks much for your patience and support, as always; and please keep the feedback coming on the Suggestions forum.
VO 1.8.191 includes:

- New and improved textures for the Centurion.
- Centurion mesh now looks correct on Android.
- Higher resolution textures for the Behemoth.
- Texture efficiency improvements to the Trident, Teradon, Constellation, Vulture and Warthog (not a visual change).
- Higher resolution nebulae for space backgrounds.
- More memory-efficient startup logos and other images.
- Some flare, sun, and effect textures mildly improved.
- Game logo is now shown in loading screen between sectors.
- Floating crates will now persist for 15 minutes, regardless of sector shutdown.
- Player-owned capships no longer have any factional docking restrictions.
- Audio limiting effect is now performed on all platforms instead of only Windows.
- Music volume setting is now applied at startup.

Graphics Updates - The upcoming wide-area release of Vendetta Online for Android handsets (phones) has pushed up the priority for any graphical changes that are generally desired or beneficial in the short-term. We don't want to push 40MB of patches to every new phone person, especially if there are a lot of them, so we're avoiding the issue by pushing the changes in advance of launch.

Some of these changes have been requested for some time, others are simply a good idea to improve performance, efficiency and memory utilization (across all platforms). The upgraded background nebulae has been requested for years; the background changes can be a subtle change in some systems, or quite noticeable in others. The updates are most visible with the "Super High" background settings.

Owing in part to the modem era in which we started, we have historically erred on the side of smaller downloads, as opposed to using the highest resolution textures or opting for the most performance. The pendulum has swung pretty strongly the other way in recent years, and while we're always going to try and maintain a modest total download, we are now beginning to dial up the detail on some of our available graphics assets.

Not all of these changes will be striking. Many will not be noticeable at all, but will be easier and faster for video chips to process. You may expect some further graphical changes in the near future, before we freeze the assets once again and commence our handset rollout.

Game Changes - The new persistency of cargo drops is no small thing. It makes a lot of other gameplay possible (eventually), like the caching of drops by users in specific locations, raiding the mining-cache of a hive, or discovering random "treasure". For the moment, cargo is still all treated the same as before, with a 15-minute timeout. Eventually, we would like to roll this into more of a cargo-class based timeout, expiring "trivial" drops more quickly than unique, valuable or crafted items.

We're still working on the convoy and NPC related issues that have been reported. We've identified the problem and are working towards a solution, but it's not a trivial issue, so please bear with us there for a little longer. We will apply more resources to ongoing game improvements once this issue has been resolved.

That's all for now, please post any problems on the forums. Thanks for your support, and have fun!
VO 1.8.190 includes:

- Fixed internal Android platform-reporting issue.
- Added more debugging for Deneb stats.
- Android client Java crash fixes.
- The game now warns you if it cannot find OpenSL ES audio drivers on
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and above. This affects Galaxy Tab 10.1
devices, as some have that file missing and therefore no audio is
heard in-game.

Some of these Android changes have been mandated by bug reports, or the upcoming release on handsets. We're still working to debug more fundamental gameplay issues, such as the occasional lost-NPC problem, or the scores in Deneb. Some of these challenges are not simple, and will require some non-trivial updates to server architecture, so please bear with us while we continue to debug and fix these issues. These are very important problems to fix, as they could impact the reliability of future gameplay that utilizes the same game mechanics, so we want to fix them before adding anything new.

We're also doing some work to improve the running memory-footprint of the game. This is good timing for the Android-handset release, but also stands to help performance and memory usage on the PC as well (especially on fill-rate-limited chips, like some laptops, etc). Most of this work is being done in the areas of graphics, textures, and compression thereof. When it is possible, we'll also attempt to spruce-up and improve some of the textures while we're doing this, but that will only happen based on time availability; the main purpose and priority for this work is to improve the memory footprint, not to improve the graphics.

As a result of the updated textures, there may be a bit larger patch in the not too distant future. We don't know exactly how large, yet, but hopefully under 30MB. Just a heads-up.

On another note, you will find Vendetta Online featured in a recent Verizon Video, posted about their 4G LTE Network. We're about half-way through the video ("4G LTE In Action", center-bottom of the page linked previously). Keep an eye out, you may see VO popping up in more advertising, across many forms of media!

Thanks for your support, as always, and please post any issues on the Bugs forum.
VO 1.8.189 includes:
- Increased max resolution of the game icon for Windows. You may need to force the desktop to refresh for it to take effect.
- Fixed an issue relating to certain types of NPCs becoming lost or stuck under certain circumstances.
- Added further debugging to help detect and detail any other issues relating to persistent and convoy NPCs on the server.
- Improved game-launcher resiliency and error handling on Xperia PLAY (and Android in general).
- Fixed Voice Chat.

The NPC debugging above will hopefully have eradicated the occasional stray NPC capship, which had been found occasionally sitting in space for no apparent reason. If you should see any more of these, please post to the Bugs forum and let us know (particularly with the NPC name, location in the universe, and time). Thanks!
VO 1.8.188 includes:

- The Trident Type M, player-constructable capship, now includes an integrated 2000-meter Heavy Storm Radar Extender (the feature is present on all existing and future vessels).
- The Trident Type M also now features a 2000-meter Shared Group Radar Extender, allowing the sharing of radar data with those in a group with the capship.
- PC versions now feature the updated graphical startup and loading screens used on the Android build.
- "Delete Key" button added the key info interface, allowing removal of keys used for station and capship ownership. Read the Help menu in PDA->Inventory->Keychains for more information.

Between 1.8.181 and 188, almost all changes were Android-specific, and included features like In App Purchase (for subscription time), full touchscreen scrolling, complete native activity support for Gingerbread or better (with java fallbacks for Froyo), support for Snapdragon devices, and a totally new user interface for phones and smaller tablets ("condensed" mode). We did not prioritize posting these changes to the usual News page, as they were platform-exclusive.

You may expect more gameplay-oriented updates, along with mobile announcements, over the coming weeks.
VO 1.8.181 includes:

- Ship damage percentage should now display properly on player-owned Trident Type M capital ships.
- Trident Type M turbo drain reduced to 45.
- New mission: "Intermediate Combat Practice" from Phaserlight!
- Mission "High Risk Courier Needed" now records failures and will become unavailable if too many take place (along with some other changes).
- Some weapons (Rails, Posis, etc) now reach much higher trade value peaks (up to 12k for Advanced Rails), with smaller drop per unit sold, but are profitable to sell only at demand-driven stations.
- Users piloting the Trident Type M can now participate in Ship Chat.
- Selecting a small ship (Behemoth, etc) that has attached turrets will now target only the ship and not the turrets.

We expect to fix more bugs and perhaps drop in a few more features next week. We're prioritizing bugfixes in what time we have between some of our current major projects. Please keep the feedback coming on Suggestions, some of the above changes were made based on recent threads on that forum.

Have a great weekend, everyone.
Congratulations to the guild [ORE] on the construction of the first player-owned Trident Type M - Light Frigate! This is a very significant accomplishment within the galaxy of Vendetta Online, making the first steps in a new level of collaborative gameplay. Conflict Diamond has posted screenshots and a more elaborate explanation to the [ORE] website.
We've just released a new "sideload" install of Vendetta Online for Android, which improves compatibility with the Qualcomm Snapdragon family of chips, and potentially some others. You may download the APK from the same location previously made available. Please note that, at this time, we still do not formally support anything beyond Tegra-based tablets, this is just for those who would like to test at their own risk. We welcome feedback on our website's Android forum.

If you already have the sideload build of Vendetta Online installed, then it should automatically update the installation to this version. When it prompts to update the "core program", allow it to proceed.
Mobile chip giant Qualcomm issued a press release today, announcing the upcoming "Snapdragon Game Pack". The release includes developers and titles that are slated to support the Snapdragon family of mobile processors. Guild Software is quoted in the release, and we are intending to bring Vendetta Online to this family of devices, running Android. This is the first formal announcement of our plans to support Android beyond the current NVIDIA Tegra exclusivity.

Beyond this, we sent out a newsletter last week that included the url of our official sideload APK of Vendetta Online for Android. At the present time, our official support is limited to Tegra-based devices, but as the above release indicates, that will be expanding in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, people who have a Tegra device that does not feature the Android Market may use the above sideload build. Additionally, those with Tegra-based phones, such as the Droid Bionic or the LG Optimus 2X, and are willing to put up with very tiny text and a difficult-to-use interface, may try the sideload build as well (an improved interface for small-scale devices is in development but not yet available). Installation of the sideload build requires the "Uknown Sources" flag to be set in Applications -> Settings, allowing installation of non-Market applications. This may be problematic for owners of certain devices, like the Atrix 4G, which do not offer this setting and specifically prohibit sideloading of apps.

We've been wrapping up several major external projects recently, that have absorbed most of our time during the past month (which we have been unable to discuss, due to non-disclosure agreements). You may expect broader news and updates to the game in the near future, although I expect we'll be very busy next week with the E3 Expo (a major gaming event held in Los Angeles).
VO 1.8.177 includes:

- Guild Commanders can now vote with the same privileges as Council members.
- Guild votes now last for 7 days instead of 1 day.
- It should no longer be possible to create more than one User Key for a given Owner Key.
- Added a condensed group view for the HUD in anticipation of increased group size limits, but the limit has not yet been changed.
- Deneb nation scores should now be properly retained across server restarts.
VO 1.8.176 includes:

- Prototype player-owned capship is now constructible through a series of missions.
- New versioning system for plugins and interface replacements. See the PCC Lua Forum for more information.
- Added Capship Access Key dialog when launching from a station with a capship for the first time. There's a time limit of 1 minute to choose an access key before a new one is automatically generated. Once a capship access key is chosen, it cannot be changed and will apply to all your capships. This is subject to change in the future.
- Unknown binds no longer get deleted from the wgaf.cfg when the game exits.

It is important to remember that player-owned capships are currently a PROTOTYPE RELEASE. That means, this is for early play-testing, but we expect there to be problems, and we would like to hear feedback from the userbase.

The process of acquiring a Trident Light Frigate - Type M (currently the only available capship) is quite arduous, and involves a great deal of "manufacturing" (crafting missions), utilizing items from high-level bot drops to rare ores and minerals. All three hidden conquerable stations must be accessed to gain all the necessary items. One of the most difficult missions, construction of the ship's reactor, results also in access to the Latos Shipyards, a secret black-market shipyard for large-scale vessels, constructed outside the oversight or purview of the major nations.

For answers to other questions, see this forum post. Please post any bugs you find, or general feedback, on the forums. We hope you enjoy this new content, and we expect to greatly expand upon it over the coming year!
VO 1.8.174
- Added Secondary Fire option for Android Tablets, as a selectable option for the Mission/Nav button on the right-side of the tablet UI (hold down until all options appear, then select Fire 2).

VO 1.8.173
- Rescaled the capship station (it is now very.. very large).

VO 1.8.172
- The Android tutorial no longer asks if you want to play the demo or tutorial.
- The demo is now run directly from the Android updater instead of through the tutorial.
- You are asked if you want to play the tutorial after the initial Android update (after the initial download) instead of after the initial download.
- The game should now be visible to more Android tablet devices on the Android Market, including the Dell Steak 7 and others.

An Update on User-Constructed Capships

User-constructed capships have been delayed until next week (again). What follows here is some background information as to why.

We've been promising some minimal form of user-owned capships (Trident Light Frigates) for some time now. The original intention was to release in January, which was then delayed (Android, Xoom release, OEM issues, trade shows, and so on). There is actually not a lot standing in the way of this release, but one change needed for functionality will result in altering the current plugin API, causing existing plugins to potentially cease functioning due to incompatibility. (Plugins, for those new users, are player-made programs utilizing an open Lua-based API for constructing new game functionality. There is more information here, some plugins are quite popular and complex).

Whenever we make a change that breaks the plugin API, we immediately get a bunch of "reports" from users about how the game is broken, when actually it is the user-created plugin that needs updating. This is essentially our own fault for not making the entire plugin apparatus a bit more robustly designed to support API changes and upgrades and the like. But, like many things, the plugin system was built to have something "working", with the idea of making it more elegant later, along with telling people that plugins were "user-beware". Having them give the appearance of our game being unstable, however, is not ideal.

Next week we will drop into place a new API that will automatically disable any plugin on startup that does not match the current API-version, as well as informing the user that the plugin has been disabled and requires an upgrade.

We're going to put this into place before we drop in the API change for capship control, in order to hopefully create a less confusing and game-breaking scenario for all our new users with plugins.

Aside from this, there are some new capship-related missions and objects need to be added to the production game, the current capship-station will probably be moved to a slightly more clandestine location, and a few optimized collision hulls added to improve server-side utilization where the new station components are concerned. We expect this all to be ready next Friday.

With a little luck, we'll also drop in some long-planned (and requested) improvements to Groups, Guilds and other areas. However, the release of player-owned Tridents is the main focus for the coming week, barring some other sort of Android-OEM-based panic (like the one that has been unexpectedly occupying us for the last few weeks).

Obviously this playable capship solution is well past due, and we appreciate your ongoing patience.
VO 1.8.170 includes:

- New capship stations in preparation of player-owned capships.
- New offline tutorial for Android that shows players how to look around.
- Android updater now times out after 30 seconds if initial download fails.
- Android updater progressbar is now set to indeterminate mode until progress actually occurs.
- Fixed occasionally crashing sectors.

The new "capship station" is only a prototype and does not represent the final, intended artwork or content. There will be some development time before these new objects are fully realized.
VO 1.8.169 includes:

- When in Turret-mode, the 'Press Activate to leave the turret' no longer fades away.
- Added the ability to invert the x/y axes of the Android HUD aiming touch region.
- The Android Controls Defaults button now properly resets the controls to the Android version.
- The Android virtual keyboard's Shift button now acts as a shift button instead of a shift-lock button.
- Updated Android's off-line flight tutorial to have the touch regions outlined in green instead of blinking.
- The Android updater displays errors if there is no internet connection or the initial download fails.
- Email verification notifications have been reworded to be more consistent.
- Email addresses need to be verified before support tickets can be submitted.
- We have also increased the user limit on the primary update server, so many more people should be able to connect before you start to see an update queue.

Many of these were much-needed short-term changes and fixes for the recently-release Android build. We have not forgotten the capship content, and we're in fact very much in need of finishing that up and releasing it in the near future.
Vendetta Online has been released in the Android Market! The game may be installed on any NVIDIA Tegra-based tablet with a 7-inch screen (or larger), running Android Honeycomb (3.0). This includes the recently-released Motorola Xoom.

We will make an effort towards engineering broader game compatibility, including phone-sized devices, in coming months. The initial release, however, is purely focused on high-performance Honeycomb devices.

For more information, see the official press release.
A new TV spot for the Motorola Xoom (launched today) is clearly featuring Vendetta Online being played on the tablet. View the video here. Also, watch for signs of the Vulture in the ad graphics outside the tablet display itself!

Additionally, there are a few new previews of the game on Android, based on interviews and usage at Mobile World Congress. Here's one from Pocket Gamer, and another from Android Pimps.

To any new Xoom owners: Vendetta Online is not yet launched in the Android Market, but we are working diligently to make that happen as quickly as possible. Hopefully early next week.
VO 1.8.163 includes:

- Keychain access menu now shows a full list of access instead of just the first station's access.
- Windows version no longer tries to warp the mouse cursor when the game is not active.
- Created new single-player game tutorials, initially for Android, but eventually for all versions.

There has also been a hell of a lot of work put into bringing playable Capships to VO. We were genuinely shooting for the 31st of January, overshot that and then were looking at tonight, but it has just not panned out yet. Still, the work is ongoing, and should not be very far off. I think people are going to be very excited when we are able to drop in this content.. the shipyard stations alone are huge (literally). There have been a number of technical challenges with bringing extremely large physical objects to the game, while still maintaining a certain degree of detail, all of which has required some added work and research. All of this has gone pretty well, I'm happy with how things are visually shaping up, but it has also made for some delays.

We are also juggling a number of other challenging timing issues, some of which are eating into development resources for features like player-capships. We will be presenting Vendetta Online for Android at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a little over a week from now, showing the game in Google's area. We really want the Android tutorial experience to be solid in advance of the show, and there is a possibility that we may do a wide-area release of the Android version around the same time (perhaps immediately after). All this depends on the outcome of further testing.

We have had a very, very intensely busy work schedule over the last few weeks, to try and both polish up certain areas on our Android client, as well as deliver new features to our existing players.

When the new tutorial system is back-propagated to the PC versions, I expect we will have a large reduction in "how do I dock?" questions, which will probably be welcome by the userbase. It still requires more polishing, but it provides an "instant action" type of introduction to the game that has never been possible before.. no more having to go sign up for an account as the first thing. Now people can quickly get an idea of the game, and then make their decisions from there.

That's all for now, I'll post again as soon as I have something significant to report.
VO 1.8.162 includes:

- Queens will now rarely drop the Queen Gatling Cannon.
- 15 new missions from Phaserlight, winner of the holiday PCC Mission Contest!
- Windows Vista/7 audio system now supports 5.1 audio setups.
- Key ramping is now off by default. This only affects new installs, it does not change your current setting.
- Added Guild Voice Chat. Guild members are automatically joined to the Guild Voice Chat channel when they log in. If you join a group, the Group Voice Chat will be active. You can toggle between Guild and Group Voice Chat using the /voicechattoggle command.
- Android updater no longer keeps the screen on while downloading, saving battery life.

VO 1.8.161 included a number of Android-specific improvements.
Motorola has recently announced the upcoming XOOM Tablet, featuring Android Honeycomb, as well as the high-performance Atrix and Droid Bionic smartphones. We're very excited for these announcements, as Guild Software's own CEO John Bergman states in his quote regarding Vendetta Online in the Motorola Press Release.

CES has been a great for us, this year, with a lot of excellent product announcements, as well as some first-look demonstrations of Vendetta Online for Android. Other CES press interviews and videos may appear in the near future.

Update: Here's another interview video.
VO 1.8.160 includes:
- Upgraded to new version of VoiceChat technology.
- Fixed ice shaders for Android version.

VO 1.8.159
- Android version now properly pauses and resumes.
- Fixed OpenGL ES shaders to properly adhere to the specs.

VO 1.8.158
- New Android demos.
- Accelerometer now disabled in demo mode.
- Fog now enabled on Android.
- Netbook vs Tablet configuration options on Android.
- Changes to Android Updater.
- Other tweaks, fixes and minor improvements.

We've been a little delayed on posting updates, as they've mainly been for Android, which isn't something too exciting for most of our users. Still, this latest Voice Chat update should have some improvements, and we expect to build in some new voice chat features for guilds in the near future.
VO 1.8.157 inclueds:
- Intel Mac Updater will no longer crash after this update.
- Added basic lua UI support for iup.Image{} for iup.label{} controls.
- Fixed SHA1 functions for 64bit platforms.
- Reduced memory leaks in Buddies menu introduced in the previous update.
- Slightly increased the size of checkbox controls.

No real game changes this week, but some important fixes, and we may have a new game website in the near future!
VO 1.8.154-156 includes:

- Three new Optical Sensor manufacturing missions, located in the Conquerable Stations.
- Bounty Hunter license for a given faction is lost if the faction standing for that faction drops to Hate or lower.
- Buddies can now be optionally notified of your location. Click the checkbox next to their name in your Buddies list to toggle the notification. A checked box means your buddy is notified of your current location. An unchecked box lets your buddy be only notified of your login status (online or offline).
- Fixed a lua error when trying to change joystick or keyboard bindings from the Input Options menu.

- Android version defaults to Flight-assist mode with accelerometer flight model.
- Fixed radar selections for Android version.
- Added support for Menu and Search keys on Android version.

- Flight-mode mouse X axis is now properly proportional to the screen size. This helps with extremely wide-screen modes like Surround and Eyefinity modes.
- Android version now has a flight-mode that uses the accelerometer.

There should be some bigger developments in the near future with respect to Android, hopefully allowing us to get back to some main-game changes before the end of the year. We'll see. The timing is a little crazy right now, but per the last newsletter, we still want to make some solid progress towards 1.9 in the coming month.
VO 1.8.153 includes:

- Hive skirmish sectors reduce faction penalties by three quarters. Faction gains are unaffected.
- Hive Observers now occasionally drop Milanar, Prosus or Siepos Observer Optics.
VO 1.8.152 includes:

- Fixed issues with turreted player not using radar extenders.
- Two new missions to manufacture Siepos and Prosus Master Computing Systems, available in specific conquerable stations.
- In-game news no longer shows unusually encoded text.
- Android version properly handles the case where there is no /sdcard.

Six-Year Anniversary Event!

A special gameplay event will be held today at 23:00 UTC! Be sure to stop by and check it out. See the in-game Event system for more information.
VO 1.8.151 includes:

- Milanar, Prosus and Siepos Leviathans now drop a large, hive-specific Data Aggregator object.
- New Manufacturing mission in one of the conquerable stations, for construction of a Master Computing System.
- Some manufactured items and hive drops now have a category specific main description, instead of simply "Trade Goods".
- Turreted players now share any radar extenders that the pilot equipped to the ship.
- Escorts properly awarded for Dynamic Hive kills.
- Critical Hive Skirmish Queens should no longer leave the sector, hopefully precluding the "Double Queen" bug.
- Giving out a Friend Key no longer provides sender's real name.

Expect more expansion of the Milanar/Prosus/Siepos drops, with relating stat trade-offs in Manufacturing of items based on them.
VO 1.8.150 includes:

- Increased rate of Escort mission posting and leaving-without players. This should result in more (and somewhat smaller) convoys in flight, while the average number of Escort missions posted remains roughly the same.
- Masses of all Valkyrie ships increased by 100kg.
- Optimized graphics rendering for all platforms.
- Killing NPCs now properly give faction penalties when appropriate.
- New demo scenes for Android version.
- Volume control on Android version.
VO 1.8.148 and 1.8.149 include:
- Border skirmish bots now give weapon XP.
- All ships now use the same storm exit point.
- Fix for crash when buying back or swapping out addons.
- Removed debug print.
- Selectable targeting mode for Android version.
- Updates to Android installer and touch-screen interface.

It remains to be seen whether this solution will really address our long-standing issues with the storm-exit-points. But, we hope it will work, and if not, it should at least get us closer to tracking down the very challenging underlying bug(s).

For those who experienced the buy-back bug since Weds, sorry about that; the buy-back problem was actually caused by fixing another bug (mining beam effects sticking around too long if you die, sometimes). For the moment, we've backed out the changes and will look into the overall issue more deeply before re-implementing the "fix".

Weapon XP in border skirmish should be a welcome addition, and a stepping stone towards a more universal presence.

I am now aiming to write the newsletter early next week. We have some pretty cool announcements coming, but some contracts and legal entanglements took a bit longer than expected. So, next week it is.

As always, thanks for your patience, support and continued feedback. We're aiming to drop in some more significant gameplay changes in the not-too-distant future. I'll cover that more in the newsletter.
VO 1.8.147 includes:

- Fixed Levi kills not being counted towards Levi badge.
- Improved Android tablet flight model.
- New touchscreen-specific tutorials for Android.

We still have not yet sent out a newsletter update with announcements about some of the recent development over this past month. I've been holding out until some of our newer partner companies are cool with my announcements. Regardless, there has been a lot of solid development going on. Some aspects should dramatically improve the introduction of the game to new players, while others should give existing vets some pretty nifty new tools.

Hopefully the newsletter will go out this coming week. If you want to receive it, be sure to have the "Yes, I want to subscribe" option checked under Account Info on the site.

In the meantime, thanks for your support, please keep the feedback coming, and have fun!
VO 1.8.146 includes:

- The edit controls no longer delete everything inside it if the first key pressed is the backspace.
- Milanar/Prosus/Siepos MkII hive bots now give XP rewards.
- Ship cargo is now visible in the Load/Unload tab of conquerable stations.
- Sell price of items now show up as 0c if the station doesn't want to purchase those items.
- Added a 'Save group' button in the weapon group tab to compensate for the fact that launching immediately after changing weapon groups doesn't properly save the weapon groups.
- Fixed a typo in the "Premium Ferric wanted" mission.
VO 1.8.144 includes:

- New manufacturing mission and associated item: Merged Cybernetics Array, located in the Bractus conquerable station. This uses one Neural Nodule from each of the major Hives (Milanar, Prosus, Siepos) to construct an element of a station or capship Master Computer.
- Improvements to orientation interpolation of remote ships. This should be smoother visibly under certain conditions, and also potentially remove some of the stuttering when one is turreted onto another player ship. Further improvements to interpolation will be forthcoming.

The lack of update last week, and the somewhat sparse update this week, is due to most of our time being dedicated to some pretty big business opportunities for distributing the game in new ways. Aside from that, we're also adding some really cool new features, which will probably be quite unexpected, but have fallen out of some of the work we've had to do for other reasons. I'll be writing a newsletter about all of this sometime soon (probably next week).

A lot more gameplay stuff is in the pipe, I hope for a whole hell of a lot of changes in October/November. We've been extremely quiet lately only because we've been intensely busy, and productive. Big Things Are Coming.
VO 1.8.143 includes:
- Mission postings are sanity checked, hopefully preventing any cases of non-functional Hive Skirmish missions.
- Fixed a shader error for the Android version.
- Bug with being unable to sell Synthetic Silksteel at stations has
been fixed.
- Windows version is better optimized due to using a newer C++ compiler.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!
Two major updates in one week is a bit unusual for us. In this case, the earlier patch was a requirement for an upcoming OEM partner, so we wanted to be sure and get all the "big download" stuff, such as large textures, in that update. That way, in the time between now and when their product finally ships, the patch updates required for their users will be minimal (this is good for us, too, less pressure on our update servers).

Anyway.. on to the updates themselves:

VO 1.8.141, on Wedneday, was largely client-side:
- Enhanced textures for the stations, new normal and specularity maps.
- Improvements to detail textures on certain asteroids.
- More efficient texture memory utilization.

VO 1.8.142, tonight, was mostly server-side:
- Modified Hives: the Siepos hive now spreads through Serco territory, while the Prosus hive appears in the Itani region of space. Milanar presence continues in grayspace.
- Each hive now drops unique Milanar, Prosus and Siepos Neural Nodule items, which will factor into "manufacturing" driven gameplay down the road. These nodules are easily destroyed in combat, and as a result are only a 1-in-10 chance of dropping from most hive members. Only the Leviathan, with its larger neural array, is guaranteed to drop some nodules.. but not very many.
- Fixed hive problem relating to NPC mining ships attacking instead of mining.
- Fixed hive issue with bots not respawning in the Milanar hives.
- Frame limiter is now enabled by default, set to 120 frames per second.

The frame limiter being turned on by default should yield cooler-running machines for some of our newer players. A lot more changes to the Hive can be expected over the coming months. Now that they're broken out into three separate definitions on the developer side, it's relatively easy for us to add a lot more gameplay specific tweaks. I intend for each Hive to be somewhat unique, eventually in looks as well as behaviour. Different AI, different weapons, different assortments of ships, and different drops. Some of these drops will then factor into various Manufacturing (crafting) roles that I'm planning to further introduce on the Conquerable Stations. Stay tuned!
VO 1.8.140 includes:

- Gray hive is now called the Milanar Hive, and is made entirely of specially named bots, including a new type of Collector. Many other changes will follow soon, with Siepos and Prosus hives appearing in Serco and Itani territory respectively. Different hives will have unique looks, drops, behaviours, etc. All will play into the Manufacturing (crafting) system.
- Client now includes a framerate limiter, under Options, Graphics. This can be set to a desired FPS, such as 60, to help newer hardware run cooler. It currently defaults to 0 (unlimited). The defaults will probably change to 120 once we know the feature works well.

Expect more Hive changes next week.
VO 1.8.139 includes:

- Increased detail and efficiency of some station textures.
- Many other small changes and updates to support the Android version.

I had to dedicate some time this week to improving a few station textures, for reasons relevant to the Android build. On the upside, players should now see significantly greater detail in the surfaces of some stations.

Next week I intend to get back to gameplay changes, bot improvements and new Manufacturing tied to the conquerable station.
VO 1.8.138 includes:

- Serco Vulture Guardian turbo drain reduced from 60 to 56.
- Classes for recently-added bot drops changed from "Special" to "Commodity" to support normal trade behaviour.
- Synthetic Silksteel is now dropped by static hive bots (different bots drop more/less often).
- New Manufacturing Mission for Latos Conquerable Station: Fused Composite Plating.
- New Manufacturing Mission for Pelatus Conquerable Station: Fluid Formable Silksteel Alloy.

The SVG tweak was a result of Ghost's very interesting (and highly active) 7-page thread on Suggestions "The State of Vendetta PvP". Please continue to provide feedback on the ramifications of this turbo energy tweak, and other areas that are in need of changing.

The new Manufacturing Missions should hopefully get a little attention. I am in the process of architecting a build tree for the construction of Big, Cool Stuff. Much of this manufacturing will be based around the Conquerable Stations. Some of it will also happen elsewhere.

This process also involves a lot of re-working of the bots, where they are and what they're doing. For one thing, I'm looking to break out the different hives into whole separate classes of Hive, which have unique drops that are specific to the region. Thus, the Serco Hive may behave and look a little different from the Grayspace and Itani hives, and also have different drops. These drops may then be utilized within Serco space to possibly create unusual advanced items. Or, certain high-value manufacturing jobs may require separate items specific to each respective Hive, requiring a ranging of geography and a variety of skillsets to be used when manufacturing something special.

There are plenty of caveats, of course. Tweaking of the War Convoys and the Border Defense Turrets, etc. But there is a specific gameplay goal in mind, something I think I can deliver relatively soon (not "Soon(tm)") and am steadily working towards.

Another aspect of the re-working of bots will include the previously-mentioned process of creating more "advanced" types within a particular structure. Such as "Veteran" or "Ace" bots, etc. These specialized bots may then also have some unique and unusual drops, some of which may be used directly, and others will be tied into specialized Manufacturing missions in various locations.

Finally, I'm looking to add in bots which appear in certain locations only at certain times. We've had the "Bar" in VO for, well, a very long time, and this sort of thing was always its intended use: as a mechanic for exchanging illicit or unusual information about the game, and as an alternate means of giving specialized missions. For the short-term, I'll just be looking to do things like distribute where and when a "special" bot might appear via methods like the Bar and others. Some of these appearances might be cyclical, but many will probably change, requiring people to get the "latest" info from a passing convoy captain, or a grizzled NPC at the bar.

We'll see how this all shakes out, but I'm excited to see it take shape. I hope you all are as well. Note: I'm not forgetting any of the economic or other work that needs to be done. Our coders are currently very busy on some major projects, and I've chosen this "bot" work, as I can accomplish much of it with minimal new code development. So, have no fear, we'll also fix many of the other issues, but this month, I think this bot work will potentially be pretty fun, and lead to some Bigger, Better Stuff.
- Eight new PCC missions.
New drops from Hive bots:
- Synthetic Silksteel (most hive ships)
- Cybernetics Grade FF (mostly Guardians, Leviathan)
- Hive Nanite Replicator (mostly Collectors, Assaults, Leviathan)

Many more diverse drops coming, tying into crafting and other areas.
VO 1.8.136 includes:

- New Manufacturing Mission for the Neutron MkIII Turret
- New Manufacturing Mission for the Aeolus Light Repair Turret
- New Manufacturing Mission for the FireCracker Turret

Each manufacturing mission is located in a specific Conquerable Station (one per station). Each mission may be taken twice in a 24 hour period by any given user (to prevent trivial mass-production). The Neutron MkIII and Aeolus Repair Turret are pretty self-explanatory. The FireCracker Turret is something new.. a very high-speed, high-maneuverability missile with significant force impact and very little damage. Basically a guided "flak" round, which can provide a significant distraction to an inbound attacker, and knock them off course, but not do much damage. The weapon has a six-round capacity, for now. Like everything in the game, it is open to tweaking and balancing should any issues surface.

Next week I plan to do some re-working of bots on the development side, laying out the organization for some of the planned "Universe Redux". In the short term, I intend for there to be a great deal more diversity in bot drops, which will then play a big part in upcoming manufacturing missions at Conquerable Stations, and hopefully leading to a Playable Trident sometime in the not-too-distant future. We'll see how that all goes, but the bot cleanup on the development side is sorely needed, so I can get a better handle on where we are and how to take us where we need to go. I'm also looking for a lot more diversity in bot types, so when we start rolling out Nation Patrols and things, you may see "Veteran" or "Ace" class NPCs along with regular ones, and the like. That's aside from a wider selection of Hive, and hopefully some specialized types that crop up in certain locations at certain times, with very interesting and unique drops.

It should all make for some pretty cool stuff that I can (hopefully) do in a short period of time. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope everyone else does as well. Take care.
VO 1.8.135 includes:

- Added ability to sort inventory list by item type.
- Conquerable station guards now cause tempKOS if they are shot by a key holder.
- Conquerable station turrets need to be damaged down to 80% before a notification goes out to key holders.
- Conquerable station turrets now properly use the IFF status of User Keys when the key's IFF status changes.
VO 1.8.134 includes:

- Players are tagged as tempKOS if they are a keyholder and they damage a turret.
- TempKOS players are not allowed to dock to a conquerable station if they have an access key.
- Keyholders of conquerable stations are notified of attack when a turret drops below 90% health.
- Conquerable station turrets respawn at 10% health and gain 10% every minute for 9 minutes.
- Conquerable turrets ignore IFF keys if the player is tempKOS.
- 'Killing spree', 'spy', and 'hydrospanner' missions have been deprecated.
VO 1.8.132 includes:

- New and Improved missions, courtesy of CrazySpence and Phaserlight.
- Removed Border Skirmish turret from Deneb C-10.
- Ship preset purchase/buyback now connects addons to the correct ports.
- Fixed rendering bug with cargo in space losing their glow when a capship or queen explodes.
VO 1.8.131 includes:

- Low-priced items that were previously useful for trade XP have been restored.
- More lucrative trade routes added, particularly in grayspace and nation capitols.
- Holders of Owner Keys of stations get notified when a conquerable station turret gets destroyed. The notification occurs no more than once per hour.
- Added an optional 'Unload and Sell All' confirmation prompt.
- Fixed a rendering bug for Vulturius Anniversary Edition and other ships.
VO 1.8.130 includes:
- Fixed rendering bug with HUD when capships explode.
- Fixed rendering bug with animating billboard signs.
- Many internal changes to support Android Tegra version.

The E3 show this past week was quite a whirlwind of meetings, hopefully we'll see some cool opportunities emerge from the aftermath. In the meantime, you can expect to see some more gameplay-directed changes in the coming weeks.
For the last several months we have been working on a native Google Android port of Vendetta Online. We will be demonstrating the port with Nvidia at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles next week. For more information, take a look at our new Android FAQ page.
VO 1.8.129 includes:

- Training Blaster and Government-Issued Plasma Cannon shot velocity increased to 145.
- Fixed a rendering bug with certain textures on the PPC mac version.
- Fixed navpoint distance indicator flickering between distance and the "Activate now" message and missile lock-on sound not working correctly.
- Fixed a bug when a new character is created successfully after trying to create a character with a name that already exists; the new character was not showing up in the character selection menu.

I understand that while a lot of these fixes and small changes are appreciated, we haven't exactly been setting the world on fire with sweeping gameplay improvements lately (aside from economics work, maybe). We're very busy preparing for a special showcase at the upcoming E3 Expo. There will be related announcements and clarifications before long.

Hopefully, post-E3 there will be a return to much of the remaining redux work. Fixes to Station Conquest, economy, faction system, dynamic warfare, war convoys, and many other things. Thanks for the continued patience in the meantime.
VO 1.8.128 includes:

- The +Shoot1/2/3 commands available to alias and plugins again.
- Radar calculations are now performed in a separate thread.
- Linux32 version now requires at least a Pentium 3 and includes additional optimizations.
VO 1.8.127 includes:

- Significant adjustments to most of the trade items in the game, in specific regions. Many new lucrative routes opened up, both grayspace and between major Nations. Some historically worthless items may now command high values in certain locations. Route bounceback times also drastically shorter in some regions, and price drop per item significantly reduced in many cases. Changes will be ongoing, and some routes may require a little time before they become apparent.
- Certain Bot processor cores (Orun, Dentek, Artemis, Guardian) are now valued at Research stations.
- Removed ability to set ship acceleration from Lua (plugins, aliases). Turbo triggering should still work (turbo-lock, etc). This change occurred due to extensive forum complaints over a recent community-created plugin. Depending on feedback, we may be able to come up with an improved solution next week, but this appeared to be the best option on short notice.
There will be a developer-run CTF event this evening at 6PM CDT, 23:00 UTC. We've spent some time tweaking and improving the CTF event code, although a few bugs have proven challenging to track down. Hopefully this event will go smoothly. We hope to see you there!

Additionally, there will be a player-run Nation War on Sunday at 20:00 UTC. See the in-game Event info for more information.
VO 1.8.126 includes:

- Only those taking a given Border Skirmish mission may dock with that mission's capital ships.
- If you destroy a player or NPC in Border Skirmish, your standing with that side's faction will be reduced a small amount.

There will also be a CTF test event later today (Saturday), see the in-game Event system for more information. The "big" planned CTF event is next Saturday; the event today will hopefully test mechanics and work out any remaining bugs.
VO 1.8.125 includes:

- Warthog TD substantially improved: armor, thrust, braking, turbo, etc. Reduced cargo capacity and slightly increased turbo energy usage.
- Consumer Robotics, Civilian Textiles, and Personal Defense Systems now command significantly higher peak prices and demand rates in Odia.
- Increased payment for participation in Deneb War. Per-kill increased from 1500c to 5000c, overall skirmish success bonus increased by 4X.
- Owner and User keys listed in your keychain now have an indicator to show whether the key is associated with a station.
- Conquerable station turrets now recognize the new owners without the sector needing to restart.
VO 1.8.124 includes:

- Escort mission rewards are now reduced in proportion to how much of the mission you spend docked.
- Nation-specific Constellations in War Convoys (not equipped with swarm missiles).
- Significantly increased XP rewards for Guardians.
- Slightly increased XP rewards for Overseers.

This partially closes the hole where some people were using the capship convoys to generate income without ever actually having to risk escort duty, by docking and riding inside the capships. It does not fully address the issue of traders doing this with Behemoth type vessels in dangerous Grayspace areas (where their personal cargo far outweighs the income from the mission itself); we will be fixing this in the near future.
VO 1.8.123 includes:

- Increased Conquerable Station Turret Armor by 25% and Respawn time by 50%.
- Fixed bug with guild creation that prevented 2 letter acronyms.
- Fixed Lua error with muting group members in voice chat.

We have a lot of other irons in the fire right now, but you can expect some more significant changes before long. Right now we're swamped with some cool development that we haven't yet announced. Please keep up the input on Suggestions.

I am also still aiming for the "April" release timeframe on making the Trac system public, which was announced with the last newsletter. The release will probably be towards the end of the month, but that is still a significant goal.
VO 1.8.122 includes:

- New Friend Key promotion. You can send a key to a friend that they can apply to a trial account to receive 2 free weeks of time. You are given 1 additional key per month that you are subscribed up to a total of 5 keys available to give out at a time. The keys are given out through the client interface and is located in Your PDA under the Comm tab. The new tab is labeled Friend Keys and shows all the keys you've given out and whether each key was been redeemed. Once you send a friend key, your friend will receive an email notification with the actual key and instructions on how to use it. Note: This has nothing to do with in-game station access keys.
- War Convoy bots now guard a spot on or near the wormhole, and should target properly (just hated for now).
- War Convoy blockade locations for the Itani side have been changed (Ukari A-10 w/ caps, B-5 w/o). Their numbers will also persist between server restarts. Other improvements to come.
- Removed console debug message.
VO 1.8.121 includes:

- War Convoys! New series of blockade convoys that are spawned daily based on the win/loss ratio of respective nations in Deneb. The convoys travel through grayspace to blockade their enemy's entrance into grayspace.
- Hive Skirmish missions no longer show up in conquerable stations.
- Fixed sector note not being able to be cleared if opened via Add Note shortcut.
- Plugin update: All PLAYER_ENTERED_SECTOR events should have matching PLAYER_LEFT_SECTOR events.

The War Convoy concept comes from a Suggestions Forum post, and is mostly implemented as suggested, with a few tweaks. The number of ships per convoy is currently reduced, and there is a cap on the total number of ships that any nation may have in a blockade sectors.. this is to prevent "runaway" blockade behaviour with extreme numbers of ships. Additionally, for the Serco side, there are two Itani convoys: a normal-sized one that blockades Ukari B5, and a smaller fighter-only contingent that blockades Helios O12.

It is a certainty that the War Convoy concept will require some testing and tuning. We may have too many ships showing up (even with the cap), or unwanted convoy behaviour, or various other issues cropping up. We'll address them as they arise, so please report major implementation problems via the Bugs forum, and abstract design improvements via Suggestions. Thanks, and we hope it's a lot of fun!
VO 1.8.120 includes:

- All station access keys have been deleted and Latos I-8 station ownership has been reset.
- Two new conquerable stations added, in grayspace. Other features will be appearing, making conquering and holding all three stations a lucrative prospect. Where are they located? Explore and find them!
- In statically fogged sectors, the sector list (the "u" menu) now only shows users within radar range, allowing total concealment through use of occlusion and fog. In non-fogged sectors and storm sectors, old behaviour still applies.
- Friendly Fire restrictions have been removed from all but Nation Capitol systems (Serco/Itani/UIT).
- Active Players list on website now displays Buddies Online for your logged-in account, and graphs of player populations.
- Changed lua function SplitStationID() to SplitLocationID(). This affects some plugins. A simple search and replace in the plugins folder will fix the problem.

We hope you all enjoy hunting for the stations. We'll be adding some related content for them in the near future, and further tweaking and tuning the conquest system as well as key management and the like. We're very close to having all the elements for some really compelling, conquest/defense driven gameplay.

The changes to the "u" list for fog conditions are a testbed for the future. No worries, we aren't going to make it the global behaviour right away. We have some work to do first, in the areas of letting players ask convoy captains about who they have seen, and some piracy reporting mechanics, and methods of helping players find one another, to help balance out the sector list becoming a radar-limited feature.
It has been a contentious topic, but for many years players have been requesting that we remove the Active Players list. There are a few reasons for this. One, guilds have exploited the list to build "alt-finder" programs, scraping the website and recording the information to a database to see what characters are never online at the same time. This practice has actually been fairly effective in the past, to the detriment of players trying to enjoy an incognito escape from guild politics or other in-game issues.

Another problem is simply that certain players would target others for attack, logging on to hunt them specifically. Other players would specifically avoid certain gameplay types (trading) when major pirates were online. Removing the list treats everyone equally: traders are no longer exposed as being available, pirates may or may not be present. Only the total relative quantity of online players is available via a graph, colored by faction.

The debate over whether to remove the list has been contentious. For one thing, people genuinely use the list to keep track of friends they want to play with. This is a worthwhile use-case, and we have attempted to replace it by adding a Buddies Online feature to the new Active Players page. This will now display all your buddies currently in the game (all buddies across all the characters of the account currently logged into the website). This, combined with the general graph, still shows overall activity trends and player densities, without exposing too much specific player information to data mining.

As a side effect, this will also break the active player feature of the IRC bot. Bots like this are not a specifically approved feature of the game (nor are they run by us); we simply haven't felt a need to establish a policy on them as of yet, and we tend to err on the side of letting people try interesting things whenever possible. We acknowledge that bots provide useful features to people in-game, but an active players list is one that people will need to live without. You can now see the general densities of players online if you want, but no specific names or numbers.

We hope people will see this overall change as a good thing. You can see if your friends are playing, you can see a general view of the game population, and you'll need to actually log in and explore to find out more than that. This keeps more to the immersive concept of our universe, without any special real-world knowledge beyond that which is socially useful. As time goes on, we may add more graphs and specific features to the link, such as the number of NPCs online (shows trends in Hive assaults and the like), the distribution of players by platform (Mac/Windows/Linux) and other data. We may also create an API (XMPP) for players to access buddy-online data and other information to use for their own purposes, as well as possibly building a facebook app to help VO players stay on top of game events, guild activities, and the actions of their friends.

Also, as a reminder, if people have issues with any specific individuals being abusive or egregiously annoying on 100, feel free to open a Customer Support Ticket and tell us about it. People need to report issues for us to take action. Of course, /ignore also works, but that isn't always a tenable solution.

I hope people like the change and the Buddies Online feature, if you'd like to discuss it further, post to this new thread, don't revive one of the old ones. We're always open to creating new features to try and help use cases that are impacted by changes like this. There is usually a middle-ground solution to be found, if people can patiently explain the issues to us.

As always, thanks for your patience and support.
VO 1.8.119 includes:

- Changed random number generator for new character name creation. It is seeded once a second, so new names can only be created once a second.
- Colliding with other ships will no longer cause their radar blips to change from green to red.
- Fixed a CTF race condition.

The top change in this release may seem like a minor fix, but it was a major thing for new players who were finding the randomly generated names to be mostly used-up. This re-seeding of the character name generator greatly improves that situation, removing a relatively silly issue. We will also be culling our character names in the not too distant future, predominately those on never-before-subscribed accounts that are older than a year. This should free up a lot of character names. We will not be deleting the old characters or accounts, but rather renaming the characters to include random data blocks. If users wish to revive those characters later, they can request a name change at that point.

You can expect more significant changes this week. We have quite a bit of cool stuff in the works, just not yet ready for prime time.
VO 1.8.118 includes:

- Unaligned Station guards now help defend the conquerable station.
- Convoys really have cargo in them now. No, really, we mean it this time.
- Fixed visual mission timer on HUD. It now counts down to zero and stays there until the mission ends. If the timer was created outside of a mission, it will go away when it reaches zero.
- Textured line effects now have a minimum screen size so they don't glitter as much when they are far away. This affects things like ship exhaust and some weapon effects including swarm missile trails and mining beam effects.
VO 1.8.117 includes:

- Manufacturing the Teller-Ulam Mine in the Conquerable Station now has reduced requirements (Queen Processors instead of Queen Matrix). Mission can only be taken twice per day.
- Missile turrets around Conquerable Stations now do less damage and have a lower top speed. Other missile turrets are unaffected.
- Web page submission system for in-game player-created events. See for more information.
- Audio system now has a limiter to prevent clipping when too many loud sounds are played at the same time.
- Audio system resamples the sound to the sampling rate that the OS reports. This only affects Windows Vista and Windows 7.
- Fixed 'Empty Convoy' bug.
- Fixed a bug where turreted ship weapon group tab would permanently hide the turret ports.
- Fixed a bug where taking an escort mission, launching, and then changing the nav route would cause the jump navpoint to be too near the station.
- Fixed a bug where two people would try conquering a station at the same time and they're both let in but only one can set a key.
- Station conquer timer is now shown to players who enter the sector after the 2 minute countdown already started.
- Conquerable station docking bay no longer says 'Press the Activate key to dock' during the time the station isn't conquerable.
- When in a capship turret, the 'Target too far to scan' message is no longer displayed on the HUD.
- High-density sectors in Deneb can no longer have storms appear in them.
- Fixed a bug where Intel GMA950-based PCs running Windows XP would default to showing the station in the menu instead of hiding it for performance reasons.
- Fixed a bug where the player who conquered a station wouldn't get free ship repairs until they redocked.

Be sure and check out the Event system, among other things. Lots more changes and major gameplay additions are coming in the next few weeks!
VO 1.8.116 includes:

- Behemoth Heavy Miner MkII now available in mining stations, requires Basic Miner III. Integrated 1000m mineral scanner, 3 large ports.
- Fix for case causing human-only Hive Skirmish to be started/posted.
- More reliable reward mechanisms (get rewarded for escorts even if you are warping).
- Navroute set again when leaving station after death in Border Skirmish.
- Windows 7 audio driver now properly plays at the correct speed when the audio device is not running at 44.1 KHz.
- Fixed UTC dates in Events menu and Keychain Menu.
- Station radar blip for conquerable stations is only visible to players who have docking privileges.
- A sector message is now displayed when the conquerable station is actually conquered.
- Giving a User Key through the Owner Key no longer creates a new User Key.
- Client build number in Credits menu now shows the downloaded version.
- Added auto-detection and changed initial default settings for certain Intel graphics chipsets, for improved netbook support (GMA500, GMA950, GMA3150).

There's a lot of stuff in this version, but among other things, players with Intel Atom-based Netbooks should have a much easier time getting started in the game. The station-blip visibility is another important change, as it will lead (quickly) to new "secret" conquerable stations appearing in the galaxy. You can expect more station/conquest related changes in this coming week, to further refine the gameplay and address certain issues, like increasing the physical size of turrets (so they don't make for such tiny targets). There may also be some new stations appearing. But who knows? If we add them, we'll let you know, but you'll have to find them for yourselves!
Just a quick note that we've added some new merchandise designs to the Vendetta Online Store. We'll be continuing to create new designs and items for the store whenever time is available. I have plans for faction and ship-specific products, etc. Feel free to take at look at the store:
VO 1.8.115 includes:

- Player-owned ships with turrets no longer accumulate area-effect damage based on the number of turrets on the ship.
- Vista Audio driver under Windows 7 tries to set the audio playback rate to 44100 Hz.
- Events/Newspost menu is wider so longer titles aren't clipped.
- 30 second logoff timer is now properly enabled when a private message is received from someone in the same sector regardless of whether the sender is ignored.

Not quite as significant a release as we've been doing recently, but still some useful bugfixes. More gameplay changes were planned for this version, but were not completed in time. They'll hopefully be ready next week (improvements to conquerable stations and other areas).
VO 1.8.114 includes:

- New Events and Newsposts menu shows Game Events that are scheduled and the last five Newsposts that are on the web site. The menu will auto-display whenever a new Event or Newspost exists and there is an option to disable auto-display.
- Three new Axia-based missions, located in Verasi, courtesy of Phaserlight.
- The Conquerable Station now has a unique Manufacturing mission for the Teller-Ulam Mine.
- The Conquerable Station conquering timer is now displayed on the HUD similar to mission timers.
- Added threat-to-shields logic, enabling more responsive queen (and other shielded-ship) defense.
- Fixed bug causing old instances of the Border Skirmish advertising-mission to remain posted.

A few notes about this update: The Events and Newsposts game interface will improve as time goes on, we were only aiming for basic functionality in this version. One request as been showing the local time for the scheduled event, in addition to GMT/UTC (gametime), this we will add. People have also requested options like something that ties into their Google Calendar; we'll consider this but don't expect anything immediately. The Event system also has a whole web-based component that is not yet ready for release: subscribed players will be able to create their own Events for registration, and Guides/Devs will be able to approve them or volunteer to help administer them (when requested). Hopefully the rest of the Event system will appear this coming week.

The Conquerable Station manufacturing mission uses a "rate limiting" feature that's a little unusual, as it is measured from when the mission "Info" is clicked rather than when it is "Accepted". For now, you can take it twice every five minutes, but as we improve the rate-limit feature, it'll become more like once every day or so. There is also a hard 8-mines-per-character limit, at present, but another mission will eventually appear and allow characters to decrement that Accomplishment counter and regain access to Teller-Ulam Mine manufacturing. These are both stopgap measures, for the moment, as hedges against runaway farming.

The new shield-attacked threat system is quite cool, but be more careful around big capships in your home locales (such as the Nemesis in Serco space). They should not be trivially aggressive, but they will respond to significant shield impacts.
We will be having a scheduled outage on Tues Feb 9th, roughly 12 hours from now, at 18:00 UTC. We will be debugging the server startup problem that plagued the game during our release over the weekend, as it only appears to occur in production and we have been unable to duplicate it on our test or development servers.

This outage window will only last about 30 minutes, so the game should be back up by 12:30PM CST, or 18:30 UTC. We only need to collect a minimal amount of information, and we can continue our debugging elsewhere. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
After a few hiccups in the release process, VO 1.8.113 includes:

- New Keychain tab in Inventory tab of PDA to manage your keys. Suggestions to improve usability are always welcome.
- There is now a restriction of one User Key per Owner Key.
- Slight changes to /key command. /key user access command no longer takes a sector name. It instead only works when you are docked to the station you control.
- Fixed defense behavior of static queen escorts.
- Fixed a recently-introduced bug with Border Skirmish scheduling.

Further improvements and changes to the key management system, and expansions of Conquest, will be forthcoming. We will eventually allow more than one User key per Owner key, but we want to put the UI mechanics in place first. Plus, there aren't enough individual authentication options to merit it yet. As always, please post feedback or ideas to Suggestions.
VO 1.8.112 includes:

- New user keys and key command. Type /key for an explanation. A user interface to manage keys is forthcoming.
- Hive skirmishes no longer appear in Latos I-8.
- Fixed capship drifting problem in Border Skirmish.
- Fixed Border Skirmish advertising mission.
- Fixed conquerable Station turret targeting.
- Improved bot aggressiveness behaviour.

Although Station Conquest and the key system still have a lot of work and improvements to be made, we have definitely delivered on our promise of releasing some implementation of a basic conquest system during the month of January. We hope you all are still enjoying it. You can expect more improvements and tweaks in the coming weeks, along with changes to other areas of the game (bot AI, in-game Event advertising, etc).
VO 1.8.111 includes:

- EC-89 and free battery are now available at the conquerable station so players cannot strand themselves there.
- Conquerable station defense turret hitpoints have been quadrupled.
- Conquerable station defense turrets now respawn after 10 minutes instead of 15 minutes.
- Conquerable station defense turrets should now try to fly back to their position if knocked away.
- There is a 2 minute wait period between when all conquerable station defense turrets are destroyed and the station can be docked to in order for the station to be conquered.
- Improvements to conquerable station defense turret targeting system.
- Trade Guild mission no longer disconnects the player when the mission is taken.

As has been stated elsewhere, this is still only a baseline "initial testing" version of Station Conquest, and thus any expectations should take that into account. Still, we hope this latest update will alleviate some of the issues that cropped up in the initial release. Please continue to post any obvious bugs to the Bugs forum, and thoughts on future improvements to Suggestions.

Also, don't forget to Vote!
VO 1.8.110 includes:

- Basic Station Conquest: A new station located in Latos I-8 may now be conquered by players. This is a very limited, basic implementation of station conquest, only for testing purposes. Once all turrets are destroyed, the first person to dock may generate or select an Owner Key for use. The console command /listkeys can be used to show the current keychain, which each have a number next to them. Then /giveownerkey (key-number) can be used to give an owner key to another player. Any player with a key for the station will be able to dock and not be fired upon by the turrets.
- Bounty System Revival: We've brought back the old Bounty system, with a 1-million-credit upper limit on bounties. For now, only NPC-driven bounties may be allocated, handed out by governments for illegal activities, such as killing station guards. You can talk to NPC Marshals in Capitol stations for more information about becoming a bounty hunter.
- Warthog Mineral Extractor now features an integrated Free Mineral Scanner (Range: 500).
- Improvements to Game Updater. The game patching system now handles certain situations more elegantly, such as running out of disk space.
- The current Mac client version is now present in the app metadata, under "Get Info", the Finder and elsewhere.
It's that time of year again, and MMOsite is hosting their Reader's Choice Awards. Last year, our ever-supportive userbase voted us "Favorite Game Company", beating out heavy hitters such as Blizzard Entertainment, NCsoft, Square-Enix and SOE.

This year the categories have been re-organized, but we've been nominated to several of them, including "Best Community" and "Favorite MMORPG". The competition opened on Jan 15th, so some of the other games have a head-start, but it doesn't close until Feb 22nd. In the meantime, every vote we get, per day, helps us get a little closer to winning. And this year, winning will mean actual prizes, including some free advertising on MMOsite. We could use the exposure, so we'd appreciate your support. Per the instructions from the MMOsite personnel, we've created a special page where you can go and vote for all categories with one simple click, or read more information about the voting process. People can keep voting every day, so check back and vote whenever you can. So, if you'd like to support us in this competition, please do so here. There's also a related forum thread on General for other questions. Thanks everyone!

As you may have noticed, there was no Friday-night release, this evening. We have several major projects working in parallel, most notably the Station Conquest system (hopefully in early testing next week) and the re-working of NPC behaviours (improving the static bots). Neither project is ready for release yet.

In times like this, it usually falls to me to generate something new to release towards the end of the week. A new item drop or other bit of content, something that can be added on short notice. This week, however, I was kept busy creating the new company website, which publicly debuted a few minutes ago. It does not have much content that was not already present on the old site, but has a bit more updated design, and there are plans for a lot more relevant content there in the future. It isn't really "finished" yet (is anything? ever?), but it was good enough for me to put online and drop in to replace the old website. I could understand if people would think my time would be better spent in other areas than doing a website redesign (like improving the game), but for the moment I'll just say that it is important to future plans. Plus, all of our other development resources are being applied directly to significant gameplay improvements, which should hopefully bear fruit within the not-too-distant future.

We are still shooting for our station conquest during the month of January goal, and it still appears realistic at this time. We'll see how things shake out next week when we get into first-generation development testing. A few tidbits about the implementation:

* You can expect to see several new conquest-specific stations added in grayspace.
* Defeating the defenses of these stations (disabling all the turrets, for now) will allow the first person to dock to take control of the station, initiating the key system for authentication and access control.

Other features will come along in due course. We're mostly trying to make things fundamentally work for now, and handle all the unusual edge cases (like "what happens when someone is disconnected after they conquer a station and dock, but before they define a key?" Answer: a key is auto-generated for them.. so on and so forth).

That's all for now. Have a great weekend, everyone!

VO 1.8.109 includes:

- Raptor MkII now available in Latos N-15 (same requirements as Dau).
- Corvus Greyhound now features an integrated cargo scanner and turbo energy usage dropped to 45.
- Combat level 4 required to be featured in Duel Rankings. Characters less than 4 may participate in Duels, but will not gain or lose points.
- Duel Rating k-factor is now scaled by rating number. Players over 2000 (Master) now gain/lose points at half the normal rate, over 2400 (Grandmaster) at one quarter the normal rate.
- Duel Rating lower limit clamped to 900, only characters above 900 are displayed on the ranking page.
- Middle Mouse button click now acts as ^v (paste) when an editbox has focus.
- Sun flare effect is no longer rendered in foggy sectors.
We have significantly changed the way we calculate Duel Stats, to try and enhance competitive dueling in the game while also keeping rankings within the realm of sanity.

- We are now scaling the K-factor by the duel rating. The original K-factor is still used between 1000 and 1999, allowing people to quickly gain (or lose) duel rating points. Between 2000 and 2399, half the original K-factor is now used, making making people ranked in that area less volatile in their changes (increases are slower, but so are decreases). Above 2400, the K-factor drops to 1/4 the original, further reducing volatility for the top-rated players. This slows the process of rank inflation, but still keeps relative ranks comparable between strong players.

- Combat Level 4 is now required to be rated in Duels. Players under that may participate in Duels, but will neither give nor receive any changes in rating. This is to allow new people a little breathing room to learn, and also to prevent trivial exploitation of duel rating by continually fighting trial account characters (still possible, just now more involved).

- Rating lower limit is now clamped to 900. This was done to allow people who have experienced many duel losses to recover more quickly if they desire, instead of bottoming out all the way to zero. At the same time, since continually defeating these opponents would not diminish as quickly (as the rating is now clamped), we had to artificially reduce the amount of ratings gain that could be accrued by defeating someone with a rating under 1000. So, there is now another special K-factor for situations where a person over 1000 defeats a person under 1000; in that case the K-factor is reduced to 1/2 of normal for the winning person of over-1000 rating. If a person under 1000 rating should win, their K-factor will be unchanged, so they will gain quickly. If two people under 1000 should Duel, their K-factor will also remain normal, allowing the usual fast gains and losses. People with a rating of 900 are no longer listed on the main Duel Ranking page, although they still show up under the individual wins/losses. Hopefully allowing people to recover from a losing streak more quickly will help increase dueling activity.

For more information, see the related thread.
VO 1.8.108 includes:

- Dueling badges are now awarded based on Duel Rating. "Duellist" at 1600, "Master Duellist" at 2000, "Grandmaster Duellist" at 2400, and Legendary Duellist" at 2800.
- Race track badges and credits are awarded on a monthly basis to players with the best track times for the previous month. See earlier newspost for details.
- Fixed bug with the Search feature of the Duel Stats page.
Hello again, and welcome to another edition of "Incarnate Writes A Newspost". Tonight we'll be discussing some of the work we have in progress, and what it all means. And, as usual, I'll probably be apologizing for not writing newsposts often enough. Moving right along..

- Station Conquest. This was widely requested not too long ago, spawned a variety of posts and an RFC thread (don't post to that thread, start a new one if needed), etc. We had a few irons in the fire already, at the time, such as implementing the now-available PayPal direct payment system. Beginning next week, we will be looking at, hopefully, having some sort of simplistic conquerable-station scenario, in production, during the month of January. However, like all great goals, this is uncertain and entirely dependent on what issues crop up. You guys know we can't make promises, but this is what we're trying to do. I don't know what form this initial conquest scenario will take, probably something along the lines of a handful of new "conquerable" stations scattered around grayspace. But, we shall see. We'll start small and Make It Work.

- Static Bot Redux. We've been using the same fundamental mechanics for non-Kourier bots for a long time. A scarily long time. Longer than Blizzard has been making MMOs. Due to continual maintenance and tangential improvements to other, connected areas of the codebase, somewhere along the line the static bots stopped working properly. The Kourier stuff still works as intended (albeit always with room for improvement), but the static bots have been fundamentally dumb for awhile. Michael is currently tasked with re-writing this system, and bringing it up to date to serve a variety of long-desired functionality. This will, at the very least, address issues like Collectors failing to ever become aggressive, or Queen escorts sitting idly by while the vessel they're escorting is destroyed. Hopefully this will make for a more engaging environment for new players, as well as for older players seeking new drops on some of these static bots.

- The Universe Redux is still ongoing. We have some high-density test sectors in the central ring of Deneb, as you are all probably aware. We're still working on optimizing a couple of areas of the game to make these sectors work as efficiently as we need, with the many thousands of added asteroids and other objects. Work on this will probably slow a bit, as we spend more resources on Station Conquest, but it will be ongoing.

- The Return of the Avalon Torpedo (and the general family of torpedo weapons). Ray has been working on making this a reality. The big critical factor has been constructing a new targeting system for capships, allowing their turrets to prioritize incoming torpedo ordinance. I expect torpedoes to have a lot of limitations: they'll be big, expensive, slow, heavy, and probably have a fixed absolute speed along with a minimum arming distance (so they can't be accelerated by the launching ship, and they'll need some flight time to arm themselves). Even with all that, they should inject another much-needed "bomber" component into our capship battles, and potentially into station conquest and other general scenarios as well. So, this is in the works, but no ETA, as again.. station conquest is the current priority.

- Other Short-Term Changes. Coinciding with the desire for station conquest was a general list of other "wanted" items, with a related thread. We've added a bunch of the suggested content: Cargo scanners/blockers, AWACS, re-acquisition of occluded radar targets, etc. There'll continually be more work going into these sorts of items when we have time or when it's appropriately simple due to some other related development. Later tonight, in fact, you should see:

* Dueling Badges - Four levels of badges available based on the Duel Rating of the individual character. Each badge level replaces the previous one, and they include: "Duellist" (1600), "Master Duellist" (2000), "Grandmaster Duellist" (2400), and "Legendary Duellist" (2800). Keep in mind that the Duel Stats Page only lists those who have dueled recently. Older veterans fall off after awhile, if they haven't fought under the Duel framework in the last couple of months. So while no currently-ranked player rates the Grandmaster status, we do have two veterans who do, unsurprisingly Ghost and martin. The possibility of Legendary duellists is one for the future.

I have not tied the duellist badges to any items as of yet, although I think that would be cool to do at some point (some special-looking ship skin, perhaps). I definitely want to add more regularly-scheduled gameplay that brings player duels together in a weekly, monthly, and even yearly (best of the best) competition. Rather than relying on an Event to do this, we'll probably do some custom development to make it an automated function, and then add in some interesting prizes and things for major winners. One-on-one PvP has always been one of the most fascinating and unique aspects of our game, completely unlike any other (that I've experienced, anyway), and I'd like to do more to celebrate that aspect if possible.

* Race Track winners. Placed around the galaxy in various locations are a few Race Tracks. We're changing this up a bit by resetting the "best times" every month, and giving the character with the fastest time (per track, per month) a special badge and reward. Then the best monthly times will be exported to a webpage, so everyone can see how incredibly fast you are at a given track.

That's about all I have for now. We are still going to improve the economy and fix the faction system. Really. Honest. I'm also going to make the damned Trac thingie public, so our developmental flounderings are visible to all (yay..?). I had really hoped to get most of the Big Stuff Fixed in VO during 2009, that was kind of my master plan. Unfortunately, we had a massive unforeseen setback occur that I haven't publicly discussed, but at least things are more-or-less back on track again now. So, time to focus on the future and all of the Awesome we can bring to the game. I hope you've all had a fantastic holiday, and I wish you the best in the coming year. Thanks again for all your support and patience.
VO 1.8.107 includes:

- 64bit and 32bit Linux copy-paste with CTRL-C in edit boxes updated to support X Selection event protocol. It now works with other X apps like xterm.

Also, there is an Event planned for later today.
VO 1.8.106 includes:

- Server-side sector load time optimizations. Further improvements can also be expected here, as we move towards larger and more complex sectors.
- High Density Sectors. Most sectors in the central ring of Deneb (not those with stations) have been replaced. These sectors were already statically fogged some time ago, in anticipation of the increased object count. The new sectors have much higher crystal density, and represent the first production test case for the "Universe Redux" process. Future sectors will be even larger and denser, but more development work remains before this can happen.
- VO "Happy Holidays to Long Lost Vets" promotion: All un-subbed accounts that were last subbed in September or earlier may play through Jan 1st!
VO 1.8.105 includes:

- Nation Defense turrets for Latos H2, Ukari A10, Edras B11 and I2 have been moved inside of their respective Nation space, and are no longer in grayspace. The turrets in Helios B7 and Ukari L2 still remain, as Capitol systems (Arta and Pyronis respectively) use turrets on both sides of all wormholes.
- Devus D3 Guardians drop Cargo Spoofer MkI (50% chance).
- Helman K3 Overseers drop Cargo Spoofer MkII (25% chance).
- Dentek Collectors drop Cargo Spoofer MkIII (1 in 50 chance).
- Prosus Assaults drop Addon Scanners (25% chance).

A little more detail:

The new Cargo Spoofer addon has the same basic feature as the previously-released Cargo Scanner Blocker, it prevents people from scanning your cargo hold. However, it also returns a false signal to their scan, showing a specific set of items rather than "Blocked", making the blocked state more difficult to detect. Each type of Cargo Spoofer (MkI/MkII/etc) returns a different cargo hold status (different items), and more Spoofers may appear down the road.

The Addon Scanner allows you to scan a remote vessel and see what addons they have equipped.

Both items are not sold at any station and may only be obtained as drops from the above mentioned Hive bots (both dynamic and static hives).
VO 1.8.104 includes:

- Small-port Cargo Scanner and Scanner Blocker (available in capitol stations)
- Fix for convoy traders repeatedly bumping convoy capships.
- Slower top speed for convoy capships.
- PCC Mission Editor additions: give-item-to-npc, park and drift actions, gave-money-to-npc event.

We look forward to feedback on the cargo scanner and blocker. The scanner has a range of 2000 meters and allows you to see cargo on other ships (including the types of ore being mined by bots, in realtime). The blocker prevents your cargo from being scanned.

Additionally, we are now offering official Vendetta Online merchandise! Many of the items are Limited Edition, only for the current Five Year Anniversary celebration period. They will only be offered through the 2009 holidays, so get them while they last.
VO 1.8.103 includes the following:

- Shared Group Radar Extender: if equipped by one person in a group, everyone within 2000m of the equipped person can share the radar view of all other group members within 2000m. These addons are available for sale in Capitol sectors.
- Target Re-Acquisition: if a selected target is lost due to occlusion by an asteroid, distance, or other reason, the target will now be auto-selected if it becomes visible again within 2 seconds.
- Upcoming Event: Dark Convoy, Saturday Nov 21st at 6pm CST. For more (but not a lot more) information, see this thread.
Do you have friends you'd like to introduce to VO? Now is a great time! We have a new extended trial promo running with, which includes access to the Anniversary Edition Vulture (new this week!). Also, the HD trailer is now available on YouTube, so feel free to stop by and post a rating or comment.
VO 1.8.102 includes:

- Convoy capships only allow their own escorts to dock (a more comprehensive rule-set is planned).
- Ejection of players from convoy capships for friendly fire.
- Tracking of escort success, failure, clean-kill, friendly-kill, and abort, in preparation for discouraging use of escort missions to trade without risk.
- Gauss MkII Turret, for use on Behemoth and Atlas turret ports, available in Capitols.
VO 1.8.101 includes:

- New characters can now be mentored until they reach level 3 in a license instead of level 2.
- Convoy capships can carry cargo.
- New optimized server-side collision mesh for Queen bots.
- Fixed a bug that caused sectors to not start up properly if two players entered it simultaneously.
- Optimized sectors so they shouldn't timeout while under heavy load when players are present.
VO 1.8.100 includes:

- Added two special 5-year Anniversary Edition Vultures, access to be granted via upcoming promotion to limited newbies and current players with at least 3 months subscription. For more information, see this forum thread.
- Fixed sort order of Corvus Greyhound in ship list, it is now grouped with other Warthogs.
VO 1.8.99 includes:

- Sectors should no longer time out.
- Fixed a UI bug that sometimes showed the wrong ship sell price.
- Accomplishments tab should no longer reset the selected badge when the tab gets updated.
- "Microsoft Strategic Commander Controller" should now work on the Mac version.

(and no, the next update will not be 1.9 :).
I haven't written a proper newspost in some time, for which I do apologize, but it's been an interesting few months. We've been plagued by some significant bugs, as well as actual physical "bugs" that reduced my ability to do my job by a non-trivial margin (for around a month, total). Just last week I had a fascinating bout with viral pleurisy, an experience I don't recommend, although it does make one appreciate simple things like "breathing".

Back to game development. We've added some pretty cool and somewhat unexpected new features over the last few months, like radar occlusion and more appearances of capships (in convoys and the like). Unfortunately, this uncorked a whole slew of bugs, big and small, which we've been diligently tracking down and squashing:

- The multi-threaded occlusion code was causing some sporadic crashes (probably due to a mutex issue somewhere), so that was temporarily reduced to single-threading last week, until we can address the underlying problem (probably next week).

- We improved the pathfinding system for the AI significantly, along with various other things, which both aided the navigational ability of bots (part of why capships are in convoys) and also reduced the server-overhead of that behaviour. However, this may have also introduced some strange corner cases that have made sectors occasionally stop working and time out. They're automatically restarted, but in some cases it's been pretty annoying for people, and we've put a lot of recent time into both making that (and any future issue) self-heal more quickly and reliably, as well as finding the core issue causing the problem.

So, clearly, the game client crashing (albeit, rarely) and individual game sectors crashing (again, infrequently) have been pretty damned important to us to track down and fix; we take considerable pride in our game's overall stability record. There have been a number of other issues, as well, and various fun with things like the billing system, but I'll spare you the details. It is sufficient to say that we've had a lot debugging work cut out for us, on mission-critical aspects of the overall game, which have taken some time away from the usual "forward progress" that we had been planning. That, combined with my absences over the last few months (or, at least, relatively low levels of functionality) has combined to not see a lot of New.

Certain things, like asteroid occlusion (which was planned) were actually moved up in priority, since they required little design or project oversight and I could just task them off to people and then go back to being ill. Such is the life of balancing project management. One does what one can with the resources available, to keep everyone occupied on something worthwhile, even if it really wasn't originally the A1 priority.

Now that I'm (hopefully?) back, I expect to be digging into some of the areas I promised not too long ago. I have some new sectors on Test with very high density asteroid fields, and I'd like to roll some of those out in Deneb sometime soon (in that case, ice fields). That will also function as another test-case for some of the new-and-improved NPC pathfinding code; having something like a Small or Medium skirmish in or near a dense field should provide some interesting insight. Obviously, the eventual goal of these new high-density fields will be the "Universe Redux" and redistribution of mineral/ore resources throughout the galaxy.

The economy is (still) sorely in need of some work. I'm aware of the convoy issues and other areas. We'll get back to that as soon as we can. Fundamental game instabilities (crashing) takes priority.

We've also half-implemented the AWACS concept, actually over a week ago. But we ran into some implementation issues, and then had a bunch of ugly bugs appear and take priority. So, you can expect we'll get back to that as soon as possible.

The station bar and various NPC and PC related interactions are also coming, although I'll only advance on that when time is available (waiting for completion of another project area, etc), as the economy, universe redux and faction systems take priority. The latter groups sounds like three separate things, but they're tied together enough to make things complicated.

We're quite jazzed about the HD game trailer being recently posted by Apple. We'll also be pushing it to YouTube sometime soon. So, if you have any friends curious about the game, feel free to have them check out the trailer. Which brings me to..

The Vendetta Online Five-Year Anniversary!

In November it will have been five years since we launched the game. Honestly, it was my plan to have a lot of the major issues above (faction, economy, universe redux) finished before this. But, this has not been a very kind year, and that's life. Still, we've made some cool progress, and I'm hoping to do some 5-year celebrations for those who are interested:

- We'll be running a promo with a major gaming site, giving away trial-only keys that also include access to some sort of special content/item. This "special" content will have properties identical to some existing content, but will look different (perhaps a ship?). This is the first time we've done this sort of thing, so this is really a test-case. Hopefully it'll go well. In the meantime, I don't really want to annoy our existing users by only giving the "new" stuff to some trial n00bs, so we will be coming up with ways of giving existing users access to the same content. It'll be based on some amount of un-interrupted subscription, like having been subbed for the last 3 months. It will also include people who have pre-purchased time that hasn't yet been used, such as a 3-month subscription. We really need more effective game mechanics for doing this sort of thing, as having completely separate ship types with the same properties but different appearance is going to become a problem. We'll eventually add some sort of "skin" system to the ships, that allows use of specialized "looks" and the like. For now, we're going to make do with what we have. If all goes well, you can expect more things like this in the future.

- I'd like to do some cool Events, but we haven't yet determined what type of events or when to host them. If people have ideas on that, please post about it on the forums.

- I will be sending out another Newsletter to announce these things, when they're a little more concrete. You can also expect to see it on here, our Twitter feed, our Facebook Page, etc.

This 5-year celebration thing will last at least through November, and possibly through the holidays.

That's all for now! There should also be another bugfix release coming tonight. As always, thanks for your support, and we hope to be adding a lot of cool new changes in the near future.
The Vendetta Online(tm) short HD trailer is now being shown by Apple on their main games page:

Ours is officially the first game-trailer to be shown by Apple in HD!
VO 1.8.98 includes:

- NPCs no longer trigger the proximity alarm if the NPC Prox is disabled.
- Fixed bug with getting stuck in capships when they jump between sectors.
- Tridents are once again part of larger escort missions.
- Bug reporter should now run when x64 version of the client crashes.
- Experimental fix for intermittent client crashes on all platforms.
VO 1.8.97 includes (just released, 10/17):

- Added options for proximity warning to activate on players, npcs, or both.
- Fixes for intermittent problems with Training V and other missions.
- Added debugging info for mac version when enumerating joysticks and other HID devices.

VO 1.8.96 included (earlier this week):

- Proximity warning now only warns every 2.5 seconds.
- Another experimental fix for Netbooks running Linux.
- Fixed random crashes for some players when they enter sectors.
- Increased reliability of sector startup. It should fix bot problems in Dau L-10 and other places.

VO 1.8.95 included (last week):

- Bots and players now properly show up on radar in Linux and Mac versions.
- Added a 'One-Off' proximity warning that will warn the first time a ship is seen within the defined proximity but won't warn again until the ship leaves the defined proximity.
- Experimental crash fix for Netbooks running Linux.
- Your own ship's health is no longer occluded. It shows up in the sector list again.

Some of our recent work (occlusion, etc) has necessitated a lot of bugfixes. We have some more major features in development, hopefully they'll start to emerge this coming week.
VO 1.8.94 includes:

- All asteroids now perform high-accuracy OBB occlusion instead of sphere occlusion.
- Occluded ships no longer show their health in the sector list.
- Radar Next/Prev selections now properly ignore occluded ships.
- Plugins can no longer get ship distances when the ship is occluded.
- Improved server-side sector performance.
VO 1.8.93 includes:

- All players and NPCs are occluded from the radar by asteroids and ice.
- Occluded ships no longer show their distance in the sector list.
- Radar occlusion calculations are performed in a separate thread.
- Different asteroid types have different occlusion behaviour (ice occludes accurately, some asteroids as spheres, etc).
- Object occlusion accuracy can now be dynamically configured on the server (Sphere, Box, OBB polygon).

You can expect further tweaks to radar occlusion as we go along.
VO 1.8.92 includes:

- Asteroids now occlude player-owned ships from your radar; ie, pilots may now use asteroid fields for concealment from other players. For more details, see the related post on the General Forum.
- Extended logoff timer situations now last 45 seconds instead of 20 seconds, after receipt of a private message. The actual extended timer length itself is unchanged (30 seconds).
VO 1.8.91 includes:

- Logoff timer is now increased to 30 seconds if you should receive a private message. The extended logoff period exists for 20 seconds after receiving any incoming message. After waiting the extended countdown period, logoff proceeds normally. This only occurs during flight, not in stations.
- Fixed bug with Linux version where the client didn't use some of the enumerated resolutions correctly.
- Added ability to override window-mode resolution in Linux. For example:
- Fixed crashing sectors.
VO 1.8.90 includes:

- Better bot path finding around asteroids.
- Teradons are included in some convoys.
- Fixed a BS/HS respawn problem.
VO 1.8.89 includes:

- Improved capship asteroid avoidance logic.
- Changed static wireframe radar extender effect to a sweeping effect.
- Changed secondary light source in fog/storm sectors to be the color of the fog/storm when present.
- Tridents are now included in the occasional convoy.
- Turbo Thrust stats are now displayed for all ships. Combined with the ship's mass, this determines the vessel's rate of acceleration when turbo is engaged.
VO 1.8.88 includes:

- Raptor MkII Turbo Thrust (acceleration) increased from 260 to 300 kN.
- Added Aeolus Light Repair Module (Small port).
- The game is now tracking player repairs, for future badges.
- Various server-side fixes.
- New HD game trailer!
VO 1.8.87 includes:

- Fog sprites are no longer rendered when shaders are disabled. This speeds up clients with older video cards, and slower integrated chipsets (Intel GMA, etc).
- Disableable turrets now emit the explosion effect to signify they are disabled.
- Several Lua bug fixes on both client and server.
VO 1.8.86 includes:

- Increased the defenses of Queens and Hive Queens.
- Added fog to the inner ice/asteroid ring in the Deneb system.
- Increased the variety of bots used in the Dynamic Hive.
- The three Dynamic Hive's ships are now colored differently.
- Improved NPC docking and undocking behavior to prevent convoy pileups.
- Fixed bug involving long-gone bots in the bar, and duplicate bar-enter/leave messages.
- Hive bots now use production queues, like border skirmish. (no more insta-respawn)
VO 1.8.85 includes:
- Asteroid sectors in Deneb now have a disableable turret. When the turret is disabled, a fighter skirmish begins.
- New detail textures for bone asteroids.
- Added ice refraction resolution setting for DirectX 9 driver. The High setting uses more video memory.
- Fixed DirectX 8 driver so it properly fails to load compressed textures instead of displaying white textures.
- Small optimization for most shaders.
- Fixed certain missions so they no longer choose training sectors as destinations.
- NPCs that have logged off no longer show up in the Bar.

Fighter skirmishes may now be started in Deneb, in asteroid sectors, by attacking and disabling the Defense Turret in any Deneb asteroid sector (without a station or wormhole). The outcome of the resulting battle results in the sector's new faction alignment, but another attack on the turret can follow immediately after. This is a testbed for player-driven "conquest" and "defense" type game mechanics.
VO includes:

- Significantly improved all crystal and ice graphics.
- Added OpenGL Antialiasing modes.
- Fixed crash in OpenGL driver.

The "new" ice effects should be visible on any card with Shader 2.0 support (ATI 9600+, Nvidia 5200+), but may not work with certain Intel video chips and the like. On the Mac, this probably also requires 10.4, at least. For those cards without Shader 2.0 support, there is yet another "improved ice" effect, that is still better than the original, and should work down to our lowest supported hardware.

The new ice is refractive, meaning that you can actually see "into" the ice (but not all the way through it, for performance reasons). As you move around the ice, or it moves, you see modulations in the refraction. The ice is actually not reflective, but does kind of appear so due to some rendering-order artifacts that we may correct eventually.

The ice is also a lot darker than it used to be. The sheer brightness of our 10-year-old EMBM ice was never quite right, and made it not blend very well with other objects in the galaxy. Now the ice can be bright in bright sectors, but dark in dark sectors.

Here are some screenshots of before, after, and the fallback (for those without Shader 2.0 hardware). Keep in mind, the refractive effect is most apparent in motion, so these screenshots don't really do it justice:

Here is the original ice, before.
Here is the new "Shader 2.0" ice, after.
And here is the "older hardware" fallback we now have (it looks like a darker version of the old ice, but it's also semi-transparent, looks quite a bit better).

There are some refraction aliasing artifacts, in really large ice chunks, when viewed from a distance. We didn't have time to look at that this past week, but we'll see if we can improve that next week.
VO 1.8.83 includes:

- New Trade, Mining, Hive and PvP badges.
- New icons for different mission categories.
- Fixed mission list bug where logging out and back in with an active mission was flagging the mission as 'Interrupted'.

As an added bonus, the News page now features RSS and Atom support!
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VO 1.8.82 includes:
- Unloading and/or selling no longer shows a false success message if there was a station error.
- Training sectors are no longer shown in the best prices list for ship cargo.
- Training sectors are no longer chosen as destinations or sources in Trade Guild missions.
- The /fps command now shows average, max, min frame rate over the last .25 seconds.
VO 1.8.81 includes:
- Mining missions now re-appear after shorter intervals.
- Three new mining missions added: Premium Ishik, Lanthanic, Apicene.
- New Advanced Training mission added: Welcome to Combat License 3!
- Updated Queen, HAC and bot textures.
- More compressed textures to lower video memory usage.
- NPCs can now enter bars.
- Fixed client-side memory leak.
We've been cooking along, these last few weeks, dropping various large patches to improve memory utilization and make the game both run better and look cooler. However, all the graphical updates in the world don't add up to interesting new gameplay, so I'm making a short post to let you all know where we're headed in that regard.

We've had some hiccups recently in other areas (the website, etc) that delayed our returning our attention to gameplay. Despite that, our focus has shifted and we've made some progress in a few cool areas. Keep in mind, these are short-term goals. This isn't big-picture stuff, but the way that these improvements will benefit the bigger picture should be self-evident.

The Station Bar

Our stations have had "Bars" for ages. Like many things in our game, they were intended to fulfill a specific purpose which was never fully realized (due to resources, or whatever). They've amounted to a private chat channel for the last several years, and beyond the occasional role-playing group, have not served much of a purpose.

This past week, Michael has been wiring up the Bar to work with Kourier-driven NPCs, so one can communicate with them via chat text. It has always been our intention to expand on the utilization of our NPCs, and broaden the level of activity in the galaxy. Persistent NPCs that move to and fro, less-persistent captains of convoys who might be befriended and relay interesting information they have seen (such as keeping an eye out for a particular character, or a special deal). Passengers and refugees in need of transport (some of which who may wish to "avoid governmental entanglements", or who are being hunted by another group or individual). Dark and seedy individuals with offers of under-the-table dealings and espionage. Rumors of treasure and ghost-ship derelicts, special time-dependent NPCs, and when and where they're rumored to appear.

The above cases can really be seen as another mechanism for mission interfaces, in this case being different missions that can be received from NPCs. The Bar will not be the only method by which this can occur (some will recall our Marshal interface for bounty hunters), but it will be one method.

Aside from this, bars may eventually offer other things, like gambling, virtual alcohol, and perhaps the occasional shootout (depending on the region). In any case, it's a long-planned area of the game that has lain fallow since release, and as finally receiving a little attention. We've made a lot of progress with the power of the Kourier system to which it will be attached, so hopefully this relatively small amount of development time will open up another window of gameplay opportunities.

Dynamic Warfare

There are a lot of things we need to add to Dynamic Warfare. A more definitive impact for the winning and losing sides, for one. Badges, the ranking system, and the ability to direct various NPCs (and PCs) as one rises in rank. For right now, however, I want to add more options to allow the player community to trigger conflict, without the need for scheduling. Scheduled battles are all well and good, they're a solid solution to certain technical and game-balance caveats, and they provide a means for people to organize around a particular place and time. For areas of less strategic importance, however (read: fighter battles) we'll be implementing a sort of "satellite" system for conquered territory. These satellites will allow the given side to monitor the system and provide automated defenses. However, if the satellite is knocked out, a "Small" class of Warfare (fighter vs fighter) will be initiated, with both sides arriving to engage over the respective sector. In this way, Players may potentially trigger Warfare whenever they like, and in particular locations. The satellite defenses, however, will not be trivial, and will require some experience and effort to destroy.

There will be some concern that if people are able to trigger battles at any time, there may be a tendency to influence the overall fortunes of a particular side by organizing conflicts at off-peak times, when the opposing forces are not prepared. This is mitigated, however, by the fact that only "Small" class battles may be started in this manner, and those are weighted to count for considerably less than the scheduled capital-ship battles.

In the longer run, this ability to "flip" the particular alignment of a given sector, and engage in running conquest on a schedule entirely devised by the playerbase, has applications for Guild-vs-Guild warfare in upcoming "expanded grayspace", as well as more generalized Corporate Wars, or even pirates-vs-Nations (don't like monitored space? perhaps a satellite can be knocked out).

There have been a lot of requests, lately, for this kind of larger-scale PvP mechanic, which lets the playerbase build whatever wars they want. This has always been my goal, even going back into the late 90s. However, I must be certain that these sorts of conflicts will not spill over or derail gameplay in other areas, which is why I have been planning this for largely "expanded grayspace" for some years. Still, some aspects can be tested in existing grayspace, and some parts of the game mechanics might be applicable to things like Station Conquest and other areas that are also much-desired. We'll see what we can do, but for now, I just wanted to relate that this is something we're working towards.

The Economy

A lot of work still needs to be done on the economy. I've done some tweaking to mining missions, this past week, to hopefully add a few more options for Miners, and more will be done in that area. The recent graphical changes are actually in advance of the great "universe redux" that I've been promising for.. a.. year or two? The re-working of the universe, which seems like more of a graphical-content thing, will have a major impact on:

* Distribution of Basic Resources (Ores, Minerals, etc).
* What content may then be Manufactured from said resources.
* Where said facilities exist.

..all of which leads to a lot of changes for the average Trader (and Miner). Not to mention laying the groundwork for full player Manufacturing in player-owned stations.

This will also lead to a greater demand for resources that happen to exist in more "outlying" (read: dangerous/lawless) regions of space. Think of it as "New World" vs "Old World" kind of concept. The great Nations and the various Corporations have their remote mining facilities out in grayspace, where the very best resources are to be found. They contend over them periodically in both hot wars and cold. Back in their "home" territory (Nation Space) the resources are more played out. Lots of stuff is still available, but not the crazy, valuable ores. The Gold Rush and Opportunity will be mostly out in Grayspace, but not everyone wants to go prospecting on the dangerous Frontier. A non-combative player will still be able to make a reasonable income without leaving the safety of Nation Space, they just may not be able to achieve quite the same sort of "endgame" stratosphere that will become possible for those who take the risk.

I've said this much at various points over the last year or so, and this is still what we're trying to do. We occasionally get derailed by scheduling issues or unexpected problems (website, billing crap, drama). Still, this is our goal, and this topic in particular is my Next Big Thing once I roll out some design to get people working on the other two topics (the Economy is mostly a design issue and requires a lot of work on my part, compared to the Bar/Warfare stuff).

And More..

We will be continuing to drop periodic graphical updates. Sorry for the big patches, but this is all For The Best. I made the Heavy Assault Cruiser look a bit better tonight, while still using quite a lot less video memory. I expect many people will notice the bots look different as well (hopefully for the better). These sorts of little "drop-ins" here and there will continue whenever I have time.

Additionally, our intern has made some cool icons for within the game, so you can expect those to appear in certain areas (Station classes, Mission classes, etc).

I hope this is informative, please keep posting constructive feedback on the Suggestions Forum. I've been so busy lately that I haven't been responding as often as I used to, but I'm still reading them.

Thanks for your support and patience, as always.

VO 1.8.80 included:
- Fixed asteroids not showing their textures for Intel graphics chipsets on Linux.
- Reverted solar panel material to fix level of detail popping artifact.
- Background is no longer rendered when in fogged sectors (no need).
Big graphical Changes -

VO 1.8.79
- New high-resolution compressed textures for EC and Raptor series.
- Re-exported and compressed textures for all rocky asteroids.
- Compressed starfield textures.
- 256MB Visual Quality settings no longer enable Texture Compression.
- 256MB VQ settings also enable Super High backgrounds.
- New Shader Model 2.0a low precision setting available, mainly for the Geforce FX series of chips.

VO 1.8.78
- Improved Shader 2.0 graphics and fixed other shaders.
- New compressed normal maps for Shader 2.0 hardware to improve video memory usage. They are loaded as uncompressed maps for non-Shader 2.0 hardware, taking up the same amount of video memory as before.
- Fixed bug where items in local non-active ships were not sellable unless there is an active ship.
- Fixed major OpenGL vertex buffer crashing bug.
- Improved texture load time slightly.
- Initial loading screen now has a percent complete counter.
We've only implemented detail textures on a few object types, so far, although as I mentioned in my last newspost, expanded usage of this and the texture compression feature will be ongoing. Some of the Detail Texture effects can be a bit subtle, the intent being to present detail as though it's a part of the object, not to draw attention to itself. Here is a before and after comparison, for those who would like to see. Try to ignore the shadow brightening of the background asteroid, that's unrelated, an artifact of how these screenshots were taken.

(images adjusted for brightness only, no sharpening)

Without Detail Textures

With Detail Textures

I'd suggest opening those in separate tabs, and flipping back and forth between them. As you can see, the difference is substantial, but has been tuned to blend with the material overall.. not be "in your face". The intent here is to use the effect to provide a more detailed in-game reality, but one that can be taken for granted by the player, not as a showcase in and of itself.
VO 1.8.77 includes:
- Added Detail Textures to some asteroids. These can significantly increase surface detail when nearer to the object, under some circumstances. Only compatible with Shader 2.0 hardware, or better. See Dau G11 for example.
- Turrets on player-owned ships can no longer be a part of weapon firing groups.
We've had a busy month, and have some cool changes in the works. My own presence around the office has been a little spotty, lately: I was at an investor conference for most of last week, so in the meantime we moved up some important tasks that didn't require too much design input or oversight. In this particular case, getting some graphical changes in place for the greater "universe redux". Michael is also working on his Event Registration web-app, but for the purposes of this post I'll mostly be discussing some graphical changes.

First and foremost, I had Ray drop detail textures into the engine. This is a feature that allows the primary texture on an object to be modulated with a secondary "high detail" texture; so when the first begins to look blurry, the second comes through and creates the impression of increased surface detail. Combine this with specularity and bump shaders, and you can add a lot of detail. This is particularly important with Very Large Objects, since they tend to have much more obviously "blurry" textures. Large or small, however, detail textures can have a big impact on the perceived visual quality of objects in the universe. Adding detail textures only took him a few hours, but handling the more aesthetic tradeoffs and balancing that against shader performance has been an ongoing process.

We had been planning to add this feature for years, but just "hadn't gotten around to it". Although they have general applicability on any object, the need for detail textures tends to be greatest with large objects. For this, and other reasons, we've historically tended to avoid "really large" objects, preferring clusters of smaller objects to yield more detail. However, as part of the greater "Universe Redux" process, I'm looking at getting some physically-bigger content into the galaxy. If I'm going to spend the time to repopulate most of the galaxy with more asteroids, I would just as soon add in some new types of asteroids, and giant ice, and other features that can add to the tactically complex environments that will become that much more central to future gameplay. Aside from this, you'll also begin to see a lot of added detail on ships like the HAC and Constellation, as well as our stations and the like. Some of the current asteroids, like the broken tan-color chunks, will be among the first to get the added improvement. All in all, detail textures add a significant bit of enhancement for a relatively small amount of development work, which is exactly the sort of graphical update that is worthwhile when convenient (despite all our pressing gameplay needs).

Detail textures will only be visible to people with "fairly" modern hardware (ie, only six years old, heh), as it will only be present for shader 2.0 capable cards. This brings me to my next subject: revamping a small area of the VO graphics engine, and some of our graphics assets.

As many of you know, we started development in 1998. Our original engine was our own custom software renderer, and we soon added support for the then-new 3dfx Voodoo and the marvel that was "3D hardware acceleration". From then on, as hardware progressed, we would add features to take advantage of it. Nvidia released the original "GeForce" card, which supported DOT3 bumpmapping, part of what would later become known as the "fixed function pipeline" (differentiated from modern shaders, which are an entirely programmable pipeline). Although I had to (virtually) beat our then-graphic-artist over the head to get him to use bumpmaps, since he had disliked the earlier EMBM we had used with Matrox cards, our DOT3 support eventually led to the object-space asteroids we all know so well. Things evolved, and we ended up using tangent space normal maps more often, but we still kept our object-space maps around and continued support for both methods into the world of Pixel Shaders (1.1, 1.4, and 2.0). As a result, a person can run our game today on a machine with a GeForce1, and still see all the bumpy lighting detail on the Training Sectors asteroids.

However, the time may have come for us to revamp how we support different hardware, to the betterment of everyone (including older machines). Part of the problem has stemmed from our large textures, and our increasingly heavy use of complex pixel shaders (2.0, for newer cards). Large textures put a lot of stress on texture memory, and also on the memory bus of any videocard in moving data to and fro in order to display all the pixels you'd like to see. Texture compression helps, but we have studiously avoided compressing our normal maps, because historically, it tended to make them look horrible. Advancements were made a few years ago, with Doom3 and some clever ways of compressing normal maps without making them look entirely like crap. Further improvements have built on that, making it an even more attractive prospect. Compressing our normal maps would considerably reduce video memory overhead, allow faster load times (anyone noticed how long it takes to load the Training sectors?), and lastly, consume less videocard memory-bus bandwidth. The last one is becoming a bigger issue as we keep adding more shader-driven features, like detail textures and so on. Any given videocard only has so much bandwidth to move textures around and operate on them in such a way as to display the Neat Stuff we send to it. Obnoxiously large, uncompressed textures can make that a lot more challenging, and reduce framerates.

The tradeoff: We're still considering a bunch of options, but it's possible that we'll just drop normal map support for anything earlier than Shader 2.0 model hardware. Ie, machines with GeForce3/4s or Radeon 8500/9000s would no longer get to see the snazzy bumpy stuff. On the other hand, those machines are really struggling to keep up with some of our newer content, like the big battles in Dynamic Warfare, and removing some of this overhead could improve that situation. Plus, it allows us to optimize more heavily for the areas we do support, making things faster for people who do have the "newer" (read: 6-year-old) hardware.

Vendetta Online is known to run on an amazing variety of older hardware, possibly making us one of the most client-scalable modern MMOs out there, and I do not intend to change that. We're not dropping support for anyone, and like I said, if anything it may make older machines run a bit better.. but at a small graphical cost. We're basically looking at shuffling around some of the graphical "glitz" in the interest of making the game run faster and better for everyone, and look cool for most people.

Ray is in the midst of implementing the new normal map compression features, in between tweaking detail textures and other things for me, and while we still have some testing to do there.. hopefully you'll see it before long. As he churns out the features, I'm revamping our graphics assets to use them effectively. I also have some unrelated work to do in updating how some of our current assets are loaded into the game. Another sign of relatively old heritage in the MMO community: our use of Hoppe progressive mesh degredation. Back in the 90s, the difference between 200 polygons and 400 polygons was a.. big one. So we engineered the "Level of Detail" system to allow people to configure different numbers of onscreen polygons, to allow their systems to work better. These days (and for a long time), hardware has dealt much more efficiently with fixed sets of optimized polygons, rather than dynamically-changing sets of un-optimized polygons (which the dynamic meshes tend to be). So while I'm reworking some of the asteroids, I'll also be re-exporting them as static meshes, and creating static LODs for them. This should hopefully also speed things up on some machines, even with higher polygon counts, and lead to a better situation for drastically increasing asteroid density in the universe. We'll make sure to keep plenty of options for game scalability (it has to be playable on my Pentium III 933mhz w/GeForce3 basement linux-box), but the nature of the options may change a bit.

"Ok, but where is the gameplay?"

We haven't forgotten any of our pressing needs with our economy, faction system, mining, missions, dynamic warfare, and the myriad of other topics that yell angrily at me from my TODO list. This graphics update is not very lengthy or time consuming, is already half finished, and should be of significant benefit to the "universe redux": the repopulation of the galaxy with vastly increased asteroid densities, statically fogged areas, and other content that will directly impact on the economy, grayspace traffic, piracy and other areas. Our new universe build tree and fully dynamic economy will stem from some of the new minerals and ores that come with the redux. Plus, it will make certain combat (such as fighter-level Dynamic Warfare instances) a hell of a lot more exciting. All in all, it should be a good use of two weeks.

Plus, it makes the game prettier and potentially faster. If that isn't a win-win, I don't know what is.

In other news, we also have a cool new intern (Paul) who is producing some nice new icons for us, and will be taking point on a general "icon redux" project, to update a few graphical aspects of our station UI that have been left incomplete. Not heavy stuff, but very welcome. Hopefully we'll get him involved with more art as we move forward.

That's about all I have for now. In theory, by Friday we will hopefully have some cool detail-textured asteroids for you all to check out, as well as a new Event Registration application in testing (ie, for people to register upcoming player Events, potentially to get pushed out to a future mailing list, as well as requesting Guide assistance and the like). I can't promise much more than that, I wanted to do some new Badges, but I'm up to my ears in shaders and normal mapping.

As always, please post feedback on the forums. Things are coming along pretty well here, I'm really looking forward to some of this stuff, which has been on the "horizon" for so long, and now is starting to look like it's finally "right around the corner".

This past weekend, VO 1.8.75 and 76 include:

- Fixed Voice Chat volume control.
- Slightly optimized inventory menus for players that have large inventories.

Released last week, VO 1.8.74 included:

- New weapon: the Shield Turret. This defensive weapon may be equipped only to vessels with Turrets (Atlas, Behemoth), and fires a small shielded area to deflect incoming fire. Available in Odia M14 (expensive) or the UIT Capitol stations (much more cheaply).
- "Next Border Engagements" mission indicates when the next set of Dynamic Warfare missions will start, and what size the will be.
- Fixed crashing bug when logging off with a damaged Atlas ship.
- Fixed lua error when logged in and a character hasn't been chosen yet and a Border Skirmish sector was conquered at the same time.
VO 1.8.73:
- Navmap conquered sector cells are now more transparent.
- Navmap rendering atrifacts at certain scale factors have been fixed.
- Server-side memory usage has been made more efficient.
- Fixed message stating that player entered a given station.
- Fixed misc rare client crashes.
Version 1.8.72:
- Dynamic Warfare in Deneb! The Serco and Itani vie for control of sectors in a weeklong conflict. Conquered sectors are indicated in the nav map.
- Pilots now always show up as friendly in the gunner's radar.
- NFZ indicator now appears on gunner's HUD when in a no fire zone.
- Fixed free repair for players who take part of any Border Skirmish type of missions.
- Fix to disable shaders for Intel GMA 950 chipsets on Windows.
VO 1.8.71 includes:
- Atlas turret has been moved to the stern.
- Turrets are now visible on player ships.
- Gunners aren't asked to buy back last ship when they leave the ship.
- Leaving a ship as a gunner now has a 10 second countdown so you cannot leave in a hurry. Typing /gunner leave a second time will cancel the countdown.
- Pilot and all gunners are counted as a PK when the ship is destroyed.
- Fixed a mentor bug.
- Fixed gunner leadoff/autoaim targeting.
- Message now says 'Entering player's ship' instead of 'Entering player'.
- The pilot now always shows up as green to the gunner.
VO 1.8.70:
- Multi-player ships are now available. Pilots of Behemoth and Atlas class ships (except the Behemoth XC) may now invite other players to join their vessels and help defend them via turrets. Certain ship variants have up to three turrets, allowing four players to cooperatively defend a single ship. Pilots must all be docked at the same station to initially join, and be invited by the pilot of a given ship via new "/gunner" commands. More involved interfaces, features and weapon options will become available as we move forward.
Hi there. I haven't posted a news update recently.. we had some billing system outages and a rather extensive economy discussion, all of which left me a bit distracted from the regularity of newsposts that I've been trying to maintain. Anyway, hopefully I can get back to doing this weekly, again.

What HAS been happening...

We've made some significant improvements to the server-side performance of capital ships and content related to capital ships. I've mostly illustrated this usage for Border Skirmish, but this is really a much larger picture than simply Border Skirmish or Dynamic Warfare. The improvements we've made are going to make it far easier to have capships as user-owned items. The problems that plagued Border Skirmish would not have been any easier with a bunch of player-owned capships, so hopefully you can appreciate that the development steps we've taken in that direction should have long-range impact. We're now wrapping up this "optimization" period, it largely has been wrapped up for awhile, but we've still had other testing going on in the background while we debugged a few outstanding issues. If all goes well, we should roll out LuaJIT on all sectors this week (Fri) and push Border Skirmish back to being a "normal" sector instead of a specialized test-case with its own dedicated server. This also lets us get on with expanding Border Skirmish gameplay and moving towards the Dynamic Warfare concept we've been discussing.

We've also made some big changes to the way new players are handled in the game, specifically creating the new "Training" sectors and forcing those regions to be newbie-only. There has been some controversy over these choices, but we believe that having a relatively-protected early training environment, where a new player can get a handle on the game, without being "griefed", is critical. This initial training period can be quite brief, for those who wish to skip it when making alts, but can also be lengthy for those who really wish to take their time and learn how to fly and shoot before venturing into the "greater galaxy". This also fits into my long standing plan for changing how newbies are handled within the game, and I think will make a much better experience for new people, while keeping an acceptable tradeoff for most of our veteran players. Of course, I can never please all of the people all of the time, but I am quite certain that these changes are in the best interests of the game as a whole.

Relating to the billing system. Our recent outage was not our fault (our credit-card processing site went down); but we have decided to make our billing back-end more robust to these kinds of outages. This requires some tradeoffs on our end, but they should be transparent to the subscriber, which is our goal. Since we're touching on Billing-related functionality anyway, we're also going to try and build some improvements into the interface itself. It should become far more informative and helpful, while still retaining the simplicity and functionality that (aside from a day or so, recently) it has been known. We're also still looking at rolling in the independent PayPal payment methods, and some other changes, but those are not necessarily going to appear on the same immediate timescale. Hopefully we should have billing improvements in place by this coming Friday.

What's GOING to be happening...

I'm doing some marketing-related work, setting up some promos with a few sites, and things of that nature, and haven't had a lot of time for untangling some knotty design problems we face (one of which: our faction system, the vast inane mess that it is). Completion of the the faction/FF redux is, aside from billing-outages and server-performance-problems and other unpleasant things, our highest official priority. However, since I'm kind of stalling that development until I finish with some Business stuff, I've pushed people off to other projects that I think will be.. appreciated.

As a result, Ray is now working on making multi-player ships a reality in the near future. I can't say how near of a future, because we don't know yet; but if all goes well.. as early as this Friday, if not, then next week. This is a critical stepping-stone as we move towards the goal of Player Capships. In the near-term, you can expect some sort of small "heavy" that has the potential for turrets, such as a Behemoth. This functionality has been planned for a really, really long time, but there may still be some issues with the mechanics as we put this into place, so please have patience with any issues that crop up. Despite the possibility always being there, we've never actually done this before.. which is why dockable capships are always NPCs, and dev-flown capships have never been dockable. Of course, for the first version we'll just be focusing on smaller ships, as I said, where the owner of a given multi-player-capable ship may "invite" other players to join his vessel, while docked in a station. Dynamically joining and leaving these sorts of ships, outside of stations, will not be possible.. you'll have to wait for capships with docking bays for that to happen. Anyway, I think this'll be really cool, and open up a lot of potential for gameplay possibilities. As I said, the mechanics are still in flux, so things like grouping will have to be done independently of which players join which ships. If people want to take grouped missions as multi-player vessels, then they'll need to group themselves as a separate stage.

Michael is also working on a new system to allow scheduling of Events and coordination with a volunteer Guide, which will hopefully let us host and organize more events, and have the information clearly available. Hopefully we'll have some version of this by Friday, but I don't know if we'll make it visible or not, we may yet do some testing with the Guides.

That's all for now..

Please continue to give us feedback about the game, particularly the Border Skirmish sector. Hopefully we'll have that sorted out fairly well by the end of the week, and "Border Skirmish testing" will be over and done with.

Thanks everyone, for your patience. I hope you're as excited by some of this stuff as I am.

- Incarnate
VO 1.8.69 includes:
- Escort missions now pay less within the space of a single Nation.
- Luxury goods now more valuable in deep grayspace, less valuable elsewhere.
- Organic Solvents have new grayspace routes.
- Newbie sectors now only allow new players. Other players entering those sectors will be fired upon.
- Linux right-ctrl/alt keys are now bindable.
- Further testing of server-side performance enhancements in Border Skirmish sector (please report any issues).
VO 1.8.66 includes:
- Fixed bug in Training V mission, text error in Training IV.
- Fixed bug where bots would fly into asteroids.
- Trial expiration message is now displayed when trial expires.
- Damaged ships now sell for less based on repair cost.
- Mission list now says that it is receiving a mission list
instead of saying there are no missions available.
- Character names with similar letters can no longer be created.
For example, using lower case L to look like an upper case I
to spoof someone else's name no longer works. Other combinations
include O vs. 0, Z vs. 2, and B vs. 8.
Another short heads-up about what we're doing (no this is not an April Fools post, I happened to have time to write an update today).

We spent about a month working to improve server-side performance and scalability, related to Border Skirmish and other large-scale battles (Hive Skirmish, etc). By and large, we succeeded, although there has still been some fallout of new bugs and issues that have cropped up as a result of the changes (NPCs flying through asteroids occasionally, etc).

This week, we've started to get back to doing non-optimization work, with the general idea of being back on track for the FF/Faction/Economy changes in the near term, along with the various other stuff we had been working before the unplanned "debugging / optimization period". In the meantime, there have been a lot of things that have cropped up, which fell by the wayside due to lack of development resources; so we're also spending a certain amount of time cleaning up some Billing interface stuff, and other areas.

Aside from this, there are some other issues that require addressing before we should move forward with expanding Border Skirmish into first-generation "Dynamic Warfare", which was our project focus about a month ago. We've been "temporarily" running the Border Skirmish sector in Deneb persistently on a unique server, to allow us to do performance analysis without other sectors running on the same machine and clouding our results. Now that we're fairly confident in the performance improvements, we want to move back to distributing the sectors dynamically based on cluster-server load. This is particularly important with the "expanded" Skirmish concept, since there may be several skirmishes happening simultaneously in different sectors. At the same time, however, we don't want the CPU-intensive skirmish sectors to impact other relatively-lightweight-but-critical sectors, such as the capitols or the newbie sectors. We've long planned to subdivide our server cluster distribution: "high expected CPU usage" sectors running off of one cluster, while "regular" sectors run off of others. This keeps the low-intensity and high-intensity sectors from running on the same machines at the same time, and makes the game better for everyone. We hammered out a design for the improved system on Monday, and work has begun this week. Hopefully this'll be in place by next week some time, and we can start to expand on Border Skirmish without impinging on other areas of the game.

Work on the economy is also coming along, mostly in the form of doing some analysis of trade routes, and building some tools to watch what happens. I still fully intend to push a lot more traffic into gray; I know that hasn't really happened yet, but that's still what we're working towards.

We dropped Friendly Fire restrictions, first in Odia/Sedina/Bractus, and then throughout Grayspace, and the changes have been very well received. We will be continuing to move forward on the FF/Faction changes laid out long ago, with the next big thing being the disentanging of many of our weird faction system rules, and how they interact with the client Radar. Fixing strange stuff like radar coloration based on who is the "enemy" of the local faction, instead of the "enemy" of the actual player. Plus a lot of other changes, mentioned in the associated RFC thread. We will be continuing to remove FF restrictions, as well. I may leave them in place in the starting newbie sectors, or around Capitol stations, but I am aiming to remove them as much as possible.

On the "longer-term" view, I am starting to rework some of our milestones to take into account the recent optimization work, and I expect to post a 1.9.0 bulletpoint list before long. This will probably go up here, as well as going out to the usual news sites. Whenever I'm getting a chance, I'm re-organizing our high-level goals with an eye towards this, a 2.0 bulletpoint list, and a public Trac system (no, I'm not promising a timeframe on that last one). Of course, this takes time away from my day-to-day work.. if only project management / design was my job, instead I have like fifty jobs to juggle. Anyway, end result being, I think we'll be seeing 1.9 in the near term, as well as some more information about The Plan.

On the short-term front, I don't want to over-promise anything, but if we're lucky we may see: 1) Expanded Border Skirmish, 2) Most of the FF/Faction fixes, and 3) some significant economy/trade-route changes, before the end of April. No, that isn't an April fools thing, and I'd say it's more likely that we'll do two out of three, but it's possible that we'll get to all of them. It really depends on what bugs and nastiness happens along the way. For instance, Michael has been working on some low-key changes to handling of groups in Skirmishes (so they don't automatically break up at the end, and people can continue chatting, etc), and today discovered a nasty bug that actually causes the game server to exit. These sorts of things happen, you spend time working on X, and suddenly discover Y orthogonal nasty bug.

So, let's keep our fingers crossed and hope things go smoothly over the next couple of weeks. We'd really like to get some of this stuff out of the way, so we can look at really expanding gameplay in earnest. Building and optimizing "engines" is all very well and good, but it doesn't really get interesting until you start to do something with it, and that's the bit I think we're all looking forward to.

Take care all, thanks for your patience and support.

VO 1.8.64/65 (both this week) included:

- Friendly-Fire restrictions removed from all of gray space.
- More server-side Border Skirmish performance enhancements.
- Server-side performance enhancements are now used everywhere.
- Border Skirmish now features live countdown timer in mission description.
- Fixed HUD component size issues.
- Improved client-side collision detection in highly active areas such as Border Skirmish.
- Fixed bug that caused ship radar blips to turn blue when binding a joystick button to a command when the joystick button already had a command bound to it. Also fixed other possible crashing bugs with joystick menu.
- HUD is centered in the middle 4:3 aspect region on the screen by default when starting the game in 1920 widescreen. This option can be turned on and off in the Interface HUD options menu.
Just a little quick info about what we've been doing.

The last few weeks have been somewhat frustrating for us, as we've been debugging the whole server-side Border Skirmish performance issues. We found the original "trigger" problem relatively quickly, but after fixing that we still saw sub-par performance, and analysis indicated that there were.. a lot of different issues to look into.

Some avenues, like LuaJIT, ended up not working out for us for the time being (LuaJIT is very cool, but we make extensive use of coroutines, which are suboptimal in the released 1.x version). Other work just didn't really produce the results we were hoping for, and after two weeks of screwing around with sector code, we've been really wanting to get back to things like.. oh.. adding gameplay.

So anyway, this week we attacked this issue anew, to try and really nail it down, and we've been working pretty intently.. hence the lack of news updates on my part. I've been more directly involved than in past weeks, as I'm the only person equipped to do stuff like model new collision hulls (more on that later).

After some use of FreeBSD's very cool PMC Tools (basically the FreeBSD equivalent of Linux's oprofile), we discovered some issues in our spatial partitioning code. We use an Octree to subdivide space and give us certain regions where certain objects should be checked for collisions (but others should not), and the like. In situations like capital ship battles, so many shots are being fired from capship turrets that the octree code was becoming sub-optimal. We're now experimenting with a Sweep and Prune implementation that seems to yield much better performance in the specific "giant space battle" case, but may be less optimal for other, more generalized situations. We have constructed several benchmarks and are continuing to experiment.

Aside from this, I've also been producing more efficient collision hulls, for use only on the server-side. Games use separate models for "visual" detail versus "collision" and "physics" usage. The visual model includes all the pretty and intricate detail that makes an object visually interesting. The collision hull only needs to have the parts that are important to actually.. colliding with other objects (such as enemy shots, rockets, big rocks, or that docking bay that you swear moved). On small ships, there's a lot of leeway.. collision models can lose a lot of surface detail without actually causing any noticeable or combat-relevant change to object collisions.

Large ships, on the other hand, are much more challenging cases for "optimized" collision hulls. Think of a stack of ten equally-sized legos: if you remove one lego, the overall size of the object is not that dramatically different. However, to a creature the size of an ant, it might be significant; by the same token if you scaled the lego object up to the size of a skyscraper, that "one" lego you removed might be hundreds of feet in difference. The same issue holds true when creating collision hulls for physically "large" objects in games: if you remove some detail that looks irrelevant when zoomed out, all of a sudden someone's torpedo is now missing its target, flying "through" some visual geometry; or perhaps striking geometry that isn't visually apparent.

There is a desire, on the part of the game developer, to have the minimum number of polygons necessary to provide an accurate collision surface. Collisions can be computationally intensive, especially between complex objects. This is particularly the case on the server-side, where a single machine may be simulating collisions for a vast number of NPCs in a particular sector battle. To date, we have used the same collision hulls on the client as we did on the server. The client-side objects have relatively high polygon counts, as the large "detail" is really necessary. However, now we're experimenting with server-specific hulls, which will only really be apparently in NPC-to-NPC collisions. These very-low-poly hulls should drastically improve certain worst-case-scenarios, where ships are in close proximity and are firing vast numbers of turret shots back and forth. At the same time, evidence of the reduced collision hull detail won't be very obvious to the player, as the client will still use the high-detail hulls. On a sidenote, I have also done some tweaking to the client hulls, so some of them may yield better performance on people's computers, but I'm not sure that this will be noticeable.

Turrets have also been optimized, specifically the collision of their shots to objects, a very common case in these large battles. We could simply reduce the number of shots, of course (or the number of capships, or force the capships only to sit far away from one another), but that would detract from the type of "crazy-ass space battle" that we're trying to generate.

Results from the above tweaking have been optimistic, so far, at least in our benchmarks. We've also run into some weird bugs, so this BS-optimization work will be continuing into next week; but we expect we'll be able to wrap things up within the coming week, and get back to "new gameplay development". Some of the recent improvements seem to indicate a possible ~50% general performance increase; while other "extremely bad" cases may be improved much, much more. Still, we'll have to see how it goes.

Tonight we're (hopefully) going to release the optimized collision hulls, but still using the octree code path. The sweep and prune code may debut next week, we need to do some more testing, and perhaps optimization of certain areas.

I'm afraid I've been too busy to make anything particularly cool to release into the game tonight. Hopefully "improved BS performance" is worth something. There has been a lot of great Suggestions Forum activity lately, I've been following it but not responding as of yet. Please keep this up. Also, I'd like more feedback about Friendly Fire in grayspace, which we enabled last week; I've created a special forum thread for related feedback.

That's all for now, we'll be aiming to have some more significant and interesting releases next week, and be getting back on track for further Friendly Fire / Faction system changes, as well as expansions and improvements to Dynamic Warfare and the Economy. Thanks for your patience during this unplanned and highly undesired debugging period.. hopefully this work will give us a better foundation on which we can build crazy new gameplay.

VO 1.8.62 includes:
- New Ship: Corvus Greyhound, a Warthog Interceptor only available in Odia.
- One new PCC mission: CtC Information for the Itani.
- Friendly Fire has been enabled in all of Odia, Sedina, and Bractus.
- Testing more performance enhancements in Border Skirmish sector.
Just posting a quick update about what's going on with us. As of my last post (below), we were ramping up on the process of debugging server-side performance issues in Border Skirmish. We also had some unplanned excitement a little later in the week, with a webserver outage, which further sapped some time from the debugging-and-fixing process.

Back on track, we're now much more informed about the issues specific to dense capship/fighter battles on the server, and are making significant headway.. both in resolving some major bugs (which caused the interpenetrating-capship issue that recently appeared and helped spawn this effort), as well as generally improving server-side performance. The better performance we can get, the more and larger battles we can have, which is critical to our upcoming "Dynamic Warfare" gameplay enhancements.

We're playing with using LuaJIT to speed up some of the server's Lua code. LuaJIT is a very fast "Just In Time" compiler, which compiles Lua down to x86 assembly code. However, it still isn't clear if it is optimal for our particular code usage, as there are other tradeoffs (memory usage, etc).

We're also trying to enhance collision-detection performance. A lot of our collision code is pretty fast already (this is all compiled C++), but there are a few cases that could be improved. For historical usage, it has always been more than fast enough, but for expanding on the "Skirmish" type gameplay, every extra server-CPU cycle counts.

This all stems, fundamentally, from our having large quantities of complex, heavily-armed capital ships flying around and attacking one another, along with clouds of NPCs fighters. Videogame developers are inherently adept at "faking" a lot of situations in the interest of gameplay performance, a certain amount of puppetshow-theater is par for the course. It's necessary to maintain an immersive illusion, while also making the desired gameplay feasible on the target platform. In this case, however, the situation we're simulating actually is the gameplay, and we have little option but to create it all for real if we want to provide the desired experience. Thus, we really do have a lot of different individual ships making individual decisions based on a variety of input criteria, and actually shooting and harming one another, no differently than players. As a result, a lot of CPU time is used, sometimes more than is strictly "available". Even with infinite finances, we would still put effort into making such code as scalable and optimized as possible; but because we're a smaller shop, we have the added financial motivation to wring as much performance from our server-cluster as possible.

New Stuff for This Week

I had planned to drop more content last week, due to the rest of the company being bogged down in debugging-land. However, the webserver issue also used up a lot of my time as well, and I wasn't able to finish anything in time (thankfully, our Player Contribution Corps had six new missions ready).

This week, we have a bit more in the works. Among other things, you can expect to see friendly-fire restrictions dropped from the entire system of Odia. We'll see how this goes, and hopefully learn a bit more about how prepared we are for FF-removal. I also can't promise anything, but I will make an effort to drop in some new content, in the form of enhancing grayspace trade routes, and potentially adding something from the New Addon/Ship Suggestion Thread.

That's all for now. Thanks for your continued patience. Hopefully we'll have some awesome Dynamic Warfare / Border Battle stuff to show off, once we optimize some of these issues.
VO 1.8.61 includes:
- Six new PCC missions.
- Testing performance enhancements in Border Skirmish sector.

Not quite as much stuff as we had planned for this release, but some critical code for debugging and further enhancing Border Skirmish. The problem has not been fully nailed down, but we have a lot more information and are much closer to solving it.
We've been a little derailed from my previous post. As some of you are aware, we've been trying to debug some Border Skirmish issues for several months. These are the sort of bugs that give any developer a headache: they only happen when you're not looking, not simulating, and not otherwise trying to debug the issue. Over the last few months we've added some significant monitoring and instrumentation to the server-side, to let us see what is happening in Border Skirmish, and try to correlate the sporadic issues with other evidence.

The problems became a bit worse, recently, which is actually good news. Common problems are much easier to track down than occasional, sporadic problems. It was my hope to be releasing new and updated BS gameplay this week, but instead we're firmly on the course of tracking down the issue. The entire company (other than me) has been allocated to locating and squashing this particular problem, so in the meantime I'll be providing whatever releasable content that I can. We hope to have this resolved this week, although it's difficult to say with problems of this kind. Our goal is to track it down and mitigate it as much as possible within this current week, before getting back to "improving the game" tasks. One way or the other, it's going to be critical to expand Border Skirmish into Dynamic Warfare, as well as any other battle-driven gameplay, so it's best that we resolve it sooner rather than later.

Our two big tasks, as of my last post, were the FF/Faction changes to the Radar, and expanding Border Skirmish. New PayPal support was in there as well. We have made some progress on these tasks, but clearly we aren't in the process of releasing them.

The plans for Radar are roughly outlined in the original RFC thread under the section "Friend / Foe Identification and HUD changes". It really isn't just about "Radar", so much as displaying more information (and more accurate information) about who a given player should fear, who they should not shoot, and why. Removing friendly fire restrictions opens up a whole new educational issue for newbies, as far as keeping them from shooting at the nearest flying object (potentially another player). We've already mitigated this to some extent with the Training weapons now found in the updated newbie sectors, but we're going to further improve this with HUD and Radar changes to make "friends" more obvious. Some kind of "don't shoot this person" type icon, or crosshair change, if the person is of a given alignment and the sector is monitored or guarded. We'll also be tracking "team killers" (people who shoot members of their own nation) and displaying warning information about them, as well as generally considering most other players to be "unknowns" rather than "friends" or "foes". The new three-color system will hopefully make for a more realistic display of who is out there. See the original thread for more information.

Border Skirmish is planned to be expanded and improved in a couple of major ways. For one, we're looking at having several skirmishes of various types, some at the same time, some during off-times. Different battle scales will allow people with slower machines to participate in the war, and also potentially create different gameplay. The lowest-scale battle, for instance, will probably be fighter combat that takes place in dense asteroid fields (where the caps cannot go). Add the possible combination of sector fogging (another thing in development) and you get some pretty wild close-quarters combat requiring good piloting skills. Each battle scale will still have the same general parameters as existing Border Skirmish: the first to lose a certain number of casualties will retreat. The casualty limits will be considerably smaller for the smaller skirmish types, but the battles themselves may still be lengthy (we may start to impose player limits on some sizes). The effects of multiple skirmishes will be added together, to have a more far-reaching impact over a larger arc of time. The plan is to have a greater and more visible purpose over a given week, and then perhaps over a month. The winners and losers potentially gaining and losing access to some interesting and significant resources. I don't want to go too far into the specifics there, because things are still a little fluid and I dislike over-promising in content (I have enough problems with deadlines, obviously), but you probably get the general idea. We intend to couple this with in-game notifications (game-news, etc) as well as some web-status page, to try and keep people aware of the status of the ongoing war.

Aside from this, we're also looking at things like sector "conquest", and installing the first generation military rank structure. I've actually had a military ranking system written out for some years, with that as part of the eventual goal of the Deneb-war skirmish system (leading, at the top level, to an RTS-esque control of a battle by two opposing Fleet Admirals). We're clearly not quite to the RTS bit yet, but it is feasible to start seeing NPC wingmen who take basic orders ("attack my target"), and military rank structure which may be climbed. Only the base ranks are likely to show up anytime soon, but it's possible they will appear with the next major BS update.

We've also been storing statistical data about Border Skirmishes for quite a long time, and we will be adding some Ribbon/Medal accomplishments based on that stored character data.

For the moment, this is all held up by debugging. I know, not the greatest thing to hear. But, if we're able to actually track this issue down this week, it's feasible that you may see some, or all, of the above BS content next week.

In the meantime, please let us know how the unrestricted-FF sector is working. Both from a FF standpoint, and otherwise. There have been some reports that the sector is unusually "slow" on certain computers, perhaps related to a particular onboard video chipset. I created a thread to ask for more information on this issue. So, if you have a modern, multi-core system that is unusually slow in Latos M7, please take a look at the above thread. So far we've mostly seen a bunch of people with over-optimistic configurations (ie, people who pushed the settings up too high for their respective machines, but didn't really notice until they flew into Latos M7). If there are other issues out there, though, I would like to hear them. As I've mentioned previously, we're going to be re-working the whole galaxy, with much denser asteroid fields of the sort you find in M7, and if there are issues I'd rather deal with them now.

We may expand on the unrestricted-FF area, after some more testing over this week. It's entirely feasible for us to drop FF restrictions from entire grayspace systems, well in advance of all the various other FF/Faction/Radar changes that are in the works. Starting with one sector seems like a good idea for now, we'll see how that goes. I welcome feedback on Suggestions and elsewhere, of course.

That's about all I have for now. I will be trying to gather some content for a drop on Friday, since the rest of the company is debugging the Border Skirmish issue and won't be producing anything visible. So, be on the lookout for some new missions, new trade routes to gray, perhaps some new ship variants or addons. If you're a PCC person with some nearly-completed missions, feel free to polish them up and have other PCC members help you test them, before Friday. I'll be reviewing the PCC-mission-release thread at that time.

Sorry it isn't the news I hoped for a week or so ago, but it is significant progress, and we'll be getting back to the new content as quickly as we can. Thanks everyone.

VO 1.8.60 includes:
- Border Skirmish capships repositioned more appropriately for Serco/Itani jump-in locations.
- Friendly Fire exclusions removed from Latos M-7.
- Warp in and Warp/Jump out effects now have sound.
- Targeted ships now show health and shield strength percent on health bar.
- Sector notes now have multi-line support.
- A notification line is now printed in the console to show that custom interface code was loaded, if any.
- The chat log /clear command now properly clears the chat log.
- Added /help and /nation helper commands to quickly go to channels 1 and 11 respectively.
- The mission notification icon on the HUD now jumps further to get your attention.
- New keyboard bind menu. Mouse over the command to change, click once, and press the key to bind to the command. Press 'Esc' to cancel. To clear all keys from a command, hover over the command and press 'delete'.
*** Vendetta 1.8.59
- Eight new trade routes to and from grayspace: Corvus Holodisks and Textiles (Sol/Itan), Manufacturing Tools, Metana Sweets, Oxygen Recycling Systems, Rare Books, Serco Cybernetic Implants, Textured Vegetable Protein.
- Extra wormhole turrets removed from Verasi O-7.
- Border Skirmish positional and targeting enhancements for Teradon.
- Mac version's gamma setting now uses current gamma ramp as initial values instead of a linear gamma ramp.
- Mac version should no longer accept mouse or keyboard input if it is not the active application.
I'm going to try and keep this post a little shorter than usual, but just mention a few short-term projects and what you can expect in the immediate future (mostly development in the one or two week timeframe). I know I have promised a bullet-point list of the 1.9.0 and 2.0 goals, but for now I'm just covering what we are currently doing.

Small Stuff. Mac people can expect some sort of attempt to fix the gamma-change problem. We'll see how that goes.

Faction/Friendly Fire Changes (general plans outlined here). The "newbie sectors" are in place, and have been quite well received by the community. There are still some changes to training missions, a few new training missions, and special-case handling that is needed before that area is "complete", but it's at least pretty close. Next topic will be Radar, and you will hopefully see something appearing in a patch by next week sometime. Once Radar and Newbie Sectors are both fully completed (which shouldn't take too long), we need to add some special-case migration handling to allow people to choose where they want to keep their existing faction standing (triple-PoS people). I'll post more specifics on that when I know more. After that, it will be feasible to look at dropping FF, and the other various other changes. I really want to get this stuff out of the way as soon as possible, so I can move on to other, more fun things, like creating new gameplay.

Before we drop FF universally, we may also drop it in a few specific sectors, in grayspace, to allow some transitional experimentation.

Border Skirmish Changes. These are coming too, you've seen some updates and tweaks recently, as we try to improve some of the capship AI and gameplay mechanics. We fully intend to follow this up with a major revamp and expansion of gameplay, which will probably happen roughly in parallel with the previously-mentioned FF/Faction changes (over the coming weeks). That will mostly be Michael and I, where the Faction/FF stuff is mostly Ray and I. The problem is making sure there's enough "I" to go around. FF/Faction stuff has the overall priority, but I want to get the BS changes going as well; there's no reason we can't do both in this particular case, as long as I can juggle the design and project-management needs of both. Anyhow, that's what we've been doing, and we will be continuing on that trajectory.

Billing Changes, Improvements. Andy has been working on a few other things, mostly dividing his time between PCC changes and billing-system improvements. We're probably going to be pulling PayPal payments in-house in the near future, which should be good news for those who use that payment system. The price will go down (for PayPal people, to match the credit-card prices), and new options may become available, such as recurring billing for those who really want it. We're still in the tweaking and integration phase, but you can expect this to appear in the near future.

Other forward-looking development on the billing front, includes things like purchasable Gift Keys, and the ability to make special extended-trial keys available to existing subscribers, so their friends can try the game.. etc. Maybe even proper Merchandise, if we have time (hi Leebs). Not promising any of this in the next two weeks, but it is intended to grow out of the codebase-refactoring that Andy is currently doing.

Economy, Trading, Mining, etc. I'm still tweaking this stuff when I get a chance, and you can expect some changes this week (Fri). I'm continuing to try to drive more traffic to grayspace, I admit I've been a bit conservative on the pricing.. after all, we just re-adjusted the whole economy, the idea of opening up a new "money hole" is not terribly attractive. That said, you can expect to see more routes to gray, and more lucrative routes.

You can also expect to see more mining missions, and probably more Manufacturing missions now that the "mission-per-unit-time" Requirement is fully functional. This was tested in the mining missions of a few weeks ago, and allows us to make missions which give "stuff" away, while putting an absolute limit on how often someone can take such a mission, thus mitigating potential exploits.

Further Down the Road (more than two weeks).. there are so many things we'd like to move forward. The new "newbie" sectors give a glimpse of the sort of tight asteroid fields that I'd like to see more of in the galaxy. I've been talking about a "Universe Redux" for awhile now, where we completely re-work the entire galaxy, but I have just been too occupied with other development to pursue it. That's one of the "fun" things I'd like to look at, post-FF/Faction-Project. Revisiting CtC and the general higher-level gameplay constructs is another big one. Improvements in BS is an important aspect of that, but there are a lot of others. Bringing back NPC pirates, and making them cool. Bringing back bounties, and making them not an exploitable mess. Ongoing competitions, like monthly PvP dueling for a "Title", even guild-vs-guild rankings and competition over a variety of areas. Stuff like player-owned stations and capships are really not all that far off, once we get a lot of this "reworking, fixing, gameplay-maintenance" out of the way. But, first things first.

Player Contribution Corps. There's been a lot of activity in the PCC lately. Numerous mission trees in testing. Hopefully we'll see some more of these missions shortly. The PCC-Lua people have also done some interesting stuff in the past few months, which we are now in the process of integrating.

That's about all for now. Please keep giving us feedback on the forums. Even if something has been reported before, if you're still seeing it a month or two later.. give us a heads-up again. Recently we've been tracking down a lot of annoying bugs that pop up in one place, where we fix it, only to realize later that it's still present in some other, less-common scenario. The feedback and reports really helps us with this, so please continue letting us know if different things are behaving strangely, or improperly. Now is the time to make that known.

Thanks much, all. Take care.

*** Vendetta 1.8.58
- Reworked Training Missions for new players.
- Three new PCC missions, branched from Orun Processor tree.
- Border Skirmish capship positional tweaks.
- Updated Voice Chat library.
VO 1.8.57 includes:

- New starting locations and training weapon for new characters.
- Matrox TripleHead2Go Surround Gaming support.
- Sector player list sort mode is now saved.
- Hive Skirmish missions give free repair and ammo refill
in Hive Skirmish capships.
- Border Skirmish capships now start in formation and stay
close to their original position.
- Battle music starts in BS and HS sectors.

A total redux of the tutorial missions, and other aspects of the newbie sector implementation (that impact the upcoming Friendly Fire changes, etc) have not yet been implemented. They should appear next week.

Please make us aware of any improvement to Border Skirmish as a result of tonight's changes.
VO 1.8.56 adds:

- Six new mining missions available at all mining stations.
- New enhanced Grayspace trade routes: Betheshee Spices, Deneb Rum, Divinia Spice, Commercial Textiles, Fresh Flowers, Combat Simulators, Dried Meat.
- Dueling players now show up as light blue in the radar.
- Border defense turrets now respawn after 5 minutes.
- Vote Mutes now last for 1 day instead of 7 days.
- Vote Mutes no longer show how many votes have been cast.
- Fixed client crash when new items are dynamically pushed into the game.

The reworked newbie sectors were also planned for this release, but had to be held over for further testing and changes.
*** Vendetta 1.8.55
- Five new missions, appearing in Itani territory.
- 7 items now have greatly enhanced trade destinations in grayspace:
Silksteel, Consumer Robotics and others.
- EULA now displays the date it was last modified.
- Mute votes no longer accumulate if the votee is already muted.
- Jettison menu now uses comma-deliminated numbers.
- Fixed a couple of minor lua errors.
It's been a little while since the last newspost, although there have been some interim emails, posts and other things to relate some of our progress. Today I'd like to touch on some of the upcoming changes to the economic structure, as well as a few other things.

The VO economy was implemented very simply, some five years ago, to allow people to discover dynamically changing trade routes between our 135-odd stations and profit from them. The process of discovering these routes and using them was "part of the fun", but also made trading more inaccessible to new people. Additionally, for reasons of stability, we implemented such a simplistic economy that there was only a limited amount of tweaking that could be done on the development side.

This has been changing, over the last several years. We've moved a lot of data out of static Lua tables and put it directly into the database, to allow for more dynamic modification. As of this week, we've been making some fairly significant changes to the granularity with which items may be defined, per-location. For instance, as of the recent past, the best that we could specify for any given item was a min/max price value, price drop per unit sold, and demand increase over time. That is per item, across the entire galaxy. We did not have any way of specifically making an item more valuable at a particular station, or regional location. The original thinking was to simply align where given items would be sold, and then let the demand value increase allow for profitability that would generally increase as one went further and further away from the place of the item's manufacture. Again, in the early days we "kept it simple" for implementation reasons and to be sure the economy would generally work, which it did for a number of years (somewhat inflated price values and the mass-trade issue notwithstanding).

However, the political/economic map of the galaxy has changed over the last few months, with the introduction of Nation Border Defenses, and even more powerful Capitol defenses, that make it more difficult for pirates to attack traders and miners in a large area of space. I have maintained all along that it was my plan to drive more traffic to grayspace (unaligned space), by creating more lucrative routes to and from those locales. After all, a lot of our content revolves around "danger", the danger of a transport traveling through grayspace territory, and therefore hiring combat escorts. The danger of pirates lying in wait to take on major convoys at significant risk, because the rewards are so high. So on and so forth. A lot of our current gameplay stems from this, and a lot of our future gameplay will as well. We don't require it of everyone, it will always be possible to mine or trade in "safer" locations, but the rewards will be much smaller.

Unfortunately, for the last few months since I made some sweeping adjustments to the economic system (removing mass-trading and increasing the prices of ships), I haven't really been able to make "lucrative trade routes" to specific grayspace locations, due to the technical limitations of our implemented system. Plus, the last few months have had a number of major distractions from planned "forward progress", like making sure server capacity was up to par for the holiday promo, some issues with Border Skirmish and other bugs that always seem to crop up when least desired. Plus, we've dropped in some "experimental" implementations of other features that needed testing (like fogging a few sectors), which I think gave the impression that that was our development direction; actually we had implemented that stuff long ago, but not gotten it together to start testing it (which is needed, for future widespread usage).

At any rate, as of this week we should be able to try some new trade route modification, which will be more specifically lucrative for those traveling between nation space and deep grayspace. Other routes and changes and things will come as we test and utilize the improved back-end, and also as we develop more elaborate "route visualization" tools for us to use in fine-tuning the economy. With some luck, several new routes will debut in this evening's release. Don't expect everything to be perfect, I will be shooting from the hip on some numbers, and we'll have to see how they shake out.. after all, this is the first "hand-tweaking" of this sort of route.

Now some of you may say something like "But what about the fully dynamic system? Where supply and manufacturing and demand are all tied together?".. this is still our long-term goal. The frightening thing about a completely dynamic system, for a game designer, is the degree to which it may get out of hand. Now any dynamic system we create will of course have bounds, but these bounds have to be defined at some sane level to make sure the economy doesn't oscillate too wildly, but also provides the desired gameplay ramifications. Determining this "sane level" is basically what I'm doing now. I will hand-tune a lot of the static economy, such that we can use this data to implement a really solid fully-dynamic economy. The geography of the economy, as it impacts gameplay and is viewed by the lens of in-game galactic politics, is really the important factor to tune here. This will become especially true as we expand on the resources available to mine, the usages of the minerals and ores (in Manfacturing aka crafting), their contentious locations and the impact that all this has on the greater "War" between the Itani/Serco, as well as minor "hotspot" conflicts between corporations or the Hive. Thus, the bounds have to be set intelligently to take all this into account.. that we want people to be able to sell a lot of "Widget X" at deep grayspace stations, to push those particular kinds of lucrative routes, and that therefore that station's consumption must be artificially higher.

Making more trading-related tools available, for traders and miners, has also been a recent focus of ours, and will continue. I have to walk a fine line on this.. I want to make trading and mining and such as accessible as possible to new people. But at the same time I don't want to destroy the sort of "trading exploration" we've always had, where people would discover new routes. Of course, our more organized guilds have all this stuff down to a science, but still, the balance lies between making stuff "easier" while not making it "too trivial". For this reason I made the new Jettison-menu trade helper only limited to the local System. We will probably be adding more features down the road, such as possibly making the Commodities menu on any station list the best sell price for any given item, within 1 system (ie, the current system and whichever are adjacent). So one can see both the items and their purchase prices, as well as a relatively-nearby trade destination. But, again, trying to make this easier without making it too simplistic.. further feedback on the Suggestions forum is welcome.

Non-Economic Development

I don't want to give anyone the impression that the FF/Faction system redux is not also moving forward, as well as fixes and expansion to the Border Skirmish and so on. We implement things in parallel, some developments take longer than others, or have cross-dependencies, and our timing is based on a mixture of priority (need) and development convenience / unpleasant reality. The Factional stuff is still coming, we are still moving on that. We're currently in the process of re-examining a lot of the weird little ad-hoc rules in the faction system and potentially getting rid of most of them, while also finding better solutions to their original problems. Re-working the Radar will probably be the next Big Thing before we formally turn off FF. The "Newbie Sector" stuff is actually mostly finished, but requires fine-tuning and further extensive testing before we roll it out, for what should be pretty obvious reasons (other Galaxy changes, like removing the extra turrets in Verasi, will happen at the same time). Regarding some concerns over Factional mutual-exclusivitiy: I will make everyone aware of Factional exclusivity ramifications well before it happens (at least two weeks, and I'll send out an email). We will have some work-around options available to people, like switching player faction if need be, and the like. We want the transition to be as smooth as possible.

Border Skirmish needs a lot of work, we know. I expect we'll be re-examining that fairly soon (and not Soon(tm)). We've been trying to nail down some highly sporadic bugs related to the general "Skirmish" stuff, each release has added new debugging tools in one area or another, so please keep telling us whenever you run across Border or Hive Skirmish related problems. We would really like to nail down these issues before we expand on the gameplay.

There's also some other cool stuff knocking around in development, but I think this newspost is long enough for now, so I'll save that for a future one. As always, thanks for your support and help. We also appreciate all the people who have nominated us for several categories of MMOSite 2008 Readers Choice Awards.

Please keep up the feedback and the bug reporting. If it seems we haven't acted on a bug, please keep reporting the issue, we will get to it. We aren't ignoring the problems, just juggling development the best that we can. Take care all..

- Incarnate
- Jettison menu now shows the best price for each item in the
current system and what station it's at. It updates once a minute
and when you enter a sector or launch from a station.
- 3D render distance has been reduced to 20km from 60km to speed up
rendering of large sectors.
- Additional voice chat connection information is printed to the
- Corvus stations now show correct license requirements for ships.
- Many other background fixes.
VO 1.8.53 includes:

- Experimental new fog in Dau K-10 and Verasi I-5.
- Lua version has been updated to 5.1.4.
- Fixed crashing bug in Windows when trying to take a screenshot in window-mode if the window is hanging off any edge of the desktop.
- No screenshot file is generated in Windows when in window-mode and the window is bigger than the desktop.
- Voice Chat sound ducking now properly turns off if you are talking while you leave a group.
- Voice Chat now prints connection status in chat window and prints errors in console.
- Visual Quality settings are now correctly set and recognized under all circumstances.
- DirectX driver now properly detects amount of video memory available in Vista.
- Windows client no longer crashes on FLOAT_INEXACT_RESULT fpu exception.
- Fixed popping of storm entry fog effect in some slower framerate cases.
Vendetta Online 1.8.52 includes:

- Demand for mined minerals and ores in stations now increases at a drastically higher rate (over twice as fast for low-value ores, a little less for high-value ores).
- Fixed storm fog bug with grey asteroids.
- Fixed storm fog bug when changing resolution/window mode/antialiasing mode.
- Fixed crash on startup for video cards with greater than 256 megs of RAM.
- Fixed crash when logging out with Behemoth Heavy Miner ship and logging back in without restarting the client.
- All previous subscribers from more than 45 days ago may play for free until the end of December. Happy Holidays!
- 1-month extended trial keys are still available.
Today we're teaming up with gaming site to offer free one-month trial keys to Vendetta Online. This promotion is limited to 2,500 keys, and requires only a free registration on Each key may be applied to a single account which has not previously been subscribed, including already-existing trials.

For more information, see the site.
These two releases (On Monday and Friday respectively) include the following:

- Pixel shader 3 capable hardware now renormalizes normal maps at render time and does not need to renormalize normal maps at loadtime.
- Removed 'Renormalize Normalmaps At Loadtime' Video option for Pixel Shader 3 capable hardware.
- Increased server capacity.
- Changed default video and graphics settings for systems with 128 megs or more of video memory.
The last couple of months have included:

- Reworked the initial-startup of the game client to make the defaults more appealing: Game detects and offers to use the desktop resolution on first-run (hopefully the native resolution for people on LCDs). Startup logos and loading screens now aspect-correct. Special field-of-view defaults now in place for various widescreen aspect ratios, including specific HUD-scaling settings.

- Players can now "forgive" their killers in places where faction standing loss would occur, to help with accidental kills and the like, especially as Friendly Fire restrictions are removed. Yes, more tweaking to come on this.

- New asteroid textures, with enhanced default settings for 256MB and 512MB videocards.

- Improved defenses for Nation territory and Capitols (to protect newbies). Expect more tweaks here as well.

- Station cargo limits dropped from 200,000 Cubic Units (cu) to 10,000cu, with an option to "rent" more at each station for a recurring cost. More tweaks needed here.

- Most higher-level ship prices drastically increased. Newbie ships still very inexpensive.

- Demand (and sell price) of items now dynamically change with the quantity being offered for sale. This effectively removes "mass-sale" trade strategies, although further tweaking and tier-based pricing can be expected in the future.

General News, and Why we made these Development Choices

It's been quite a while since I posted a substantive newspost, but unlike my usual mea-culpa, in this case I'll simply say that I've been way too busy improving the game. Overall, a good thing, but it's still no less important to keep everyone informed, especially as our development plans take unexpected twists and turns. So, here goes..

Faction Changes and removal of Friendly Fire limitations

People have been waiting for this change for quite some time, and it is coming along quite well. Not, perhaps, as well as I hoped a few months ago. I think I said something about having it completed by the end of October or November, and clearly we're now into December. Nonetheless, I stand by the small direction-change choices we made that caused this delay, which I'll explain a bit further into this post. At any rate, those who have been paying attention will note that we've implemented a number of the major "bullet points" from the "RFC" link above: system/nation defenses, standing-loss forgiveness, and shortly.. specialized Newbie sectors. All three of these areas still require some further tweaking, and we've had a lot of great feedback on those subjects, but they are all fundamentally working. Once those are all in place, we'll move forward with Serco/Itani mutual-exclusion standing (no more triple-PoS), temp-KoS penalties, and the other discussed areas that are required to completely fix and update our faction standing system with the removal of friendly-fire exclusions. I would guess this progress will be measured in weeks, rather than months, but it may be the new year before it's all actually in place and working properly.

Why This is Taking Longer Than Expected

I know some people have been both disappointed by the lack of completion of these goals, as well as confused by why we chose to spend time on other.. completely unexpected development; so let me recap a little bit of our choices from the last couple of months, and why we made them. For one, we took a bit of a left-turn from Faction-Redux into Economy Changes, and made some pretty major updates which still require some further tweaking and improvement. The choice was made out of a desire to stabilize the game economy as much as possible prior to an influx of new people. By "stabilize" I mean "make less broken" in terms of our tendency towards inflation. There are still areas that need work: re-assessment of item/ore values in the galaxy, pushing more high-value trade routes into grayspace, and other new features that either compliment the existing changes or make some other major ramification more palatable to our trading base. All that aside, however, closing the bulk-trading hole reduced some of our inflation issues and made it possible for us to at least start working towards a more balanced economy; a necessity before we approach the completely supply/demand redux that is planned for early next year.

Aside from this, you've also seen some unexpected additions pop up. All of a sudden we released a 22MB texture update, to improve the high-detail asteroids. I think a lot of people saw this and went "huh?", not because it wasn't welcome to some extent, but simply because it was seen as a much lower priority than the various economic and faction-related work that we had been doing. Another "left-turn out of nowhere". I briefly explained the reasons in a couple of messageboard posts, but for those who didn't see or didn't understand: the new asteroids are related to the Newbie Sectors mentioned as part of the Faction/FF changes above. I am in the process of creating new sectors where newbies will be able to learn about the game in a more relaxed and defensible location than our Nation Capitols; this will become particularly critical with the removal of Friendly Fire limitations.

However, this is also a priority from a business standpoint. We've always started out newbies in Capitols, some of which are reasonably scenic and interesting, but we have needed to maintain strict limits on what we could really put in those sectors, as they're major trading hubs for the galaxy. Of course, our veteran players know there are other locations with interesting "stuff" in them, but newbies often don't make it that far. Thus, as part of this greater "Newbie Sector" redux, we're trying to show off as many of the "cooler" aspects of VO as early as possible, and in a relatively safe environment. Thus, the new asteroid textures. We've always had the high-resolution textures lying around (since 2001, actually, long before they were feasible to use on videocards), waiting for the day when high-memory cards became the norm. That time is essentially here, and since I would be using those asteroids to construct the new sectors, I figured I might as well spend a week throwing them together and putting them in the game. They're art assets we already had, which required a minimum of work to utilize, and would potentially contribute to a good first-impression on new trial users.

Playing into the timing of this choice, is the fact that we have a major game promo happening around the 10th of December, and possibly our first real Game/Event mailing-list usage around the same time. Thus, we expect to potentially have a large influx of newbies, and we would like to do everything that we can to put our "best foot forward" with them. This is why asteroid textures ended up trumping critical gameplay changes like the economy and faction system.. it isn't that we think textures are more important, it's just the way a series of events and opportunities happened to fall into place. For instance, with the new textures we would have to roll new "full install" versions of the game, which then have to be posted to our mirrors and seeded on our torrents; things that we would prefer to have in place well in advance of the newbie influx. We juggle these kinds of priorities based on the best risk/reward likelihood, keeping our schedule flexible enough to take advantage of possible opportunities. Now that this development is out of the way, you'll see us returning to the economic tweaks, forward-looking faction changes, and potentially some other gameplay updates (Border Skirmish, etc) that are sorely needed.

Fun with Server Capacity

There have been some complaints of "lag" related issues and other problems that may or may not be related to server capacity (usually they aren't, but it's possible). Before these complaints ever surfaced, we had been working on increasing capacity for the above-mentioned newbie influx. Unfortunately, this process did not go off without a few hiccups, and we did have a couple of hours of downtime over the last month. Sorry about that, but on the upside, we fixed some scalability / resiliency issues that came to light, and the game ended up being better for it. Later this week, we'll be bringing online another two single-core cluster servers, and within another couple of weeks, another pair of dual-core machines (which may inaugurate a new specialized "high-intensity" cluster server group, which exclusively handles Border Skirmish and other locales where server-heavy gameplay is expected).

The issues that occurred last Weds and Thurs (Thanksgiving, for those in the US) were actually related to our attempt to increase capacity on Weds, and a series of interesting unforeseen problems that cropped up. We had them sorted out by late Thurs, but there were some problems in between. These problems were simply a natural byproduct of the fact that we have done a tremendous amount of server development since the last time we changed our server capacity, so a few bugs had cropped up as part of new-development. This goes with the territory. Anyway, just a heads-up that we are building out more capacity for the game, as well as cleaning up / fixing other problems we're running across, all of which will hopefully add up to another four years of our being one of the most stable continuously-running MMOs out there.

Border Skirmish, Deneb wars, Universe Redux

I talked about the Universe Redux thing a couple of times since summer, and that is still coming. It was delayed by some of our Faction/Economy work, as well as the back-end problems that cropped up here and there. You can (still) expect Deneb to be reworked as essentially a grayspace conquest system, a battleground between the Itani and Serco. Border Skirmish will expand to cover the entire system, with multiple skirmishes potentially taking place at once, as well as different "scales" of skirmish, allowing varied gameplay types as well as accessibility to people on slower computers (who can't really play in the Big Battles). Also, expect more Fog. Eventually this "dynamic warfare" concept will be applied more broadly to the rest of the game, with minor factions in grayspace (Corporations) potentially going to war with one another from time to time, and offering related Letters of Marque for privateering of the opposing group. Don't expect all of this immediately, but that is the larger "Warfare" goal, which we'll hopefully be hitting before the first half of 2009.

The greater "redux" will happen once Deneb is reworked and I'm relatively happy with how the whole universe-generation process is going. The newer art assets (like the high-detail asteroids) will be used prominently, and you can expect some brand-new assets (giant ice) as well as some re-working of existing assets (ice shaders, textures, models).

Relating more specifically to Border Skirmish and the expanding "Dynamic Warfare" concept, we also did some tweaking of the capships recently to make them much more controllable. This is good, both in the immediate-term for the AI, as well as down the road for players. Even strictly limited to the AI, we expect that with some further code fiddling we should be able to reduce the server impact of major battles, by keeping some distance between the complex capships and reducing their server-side collisions.

The Future and the Big Picture

As many of our veterans know, we use a Trac system internally for development tickets, milestones and so on. I've been claiming to make it public since early 2007, which has become somewhat embarrassing. That being said, I am way too overloaded with actual immediate development work to worry too much about it right now. However, at the very least I will be posting some of our major milestone goals and bullet points in the not-too-distant future. This includes Version 1.9.0 within the next month or two (not sure if it'll make it before the end of the year, we'll see), and version 2.0.0 next year.

Vendetta Online 2.0 is basically going to be the "Sequel" to original VO, in terms of features and polish. Although, strictly speaking, it will really be much closer to what we originally intended VO to be, from the very beginning, but never had the time or funding to complete. This is where all my blathering about Kourier/Erlang and massive NPC AI and other lengthy back-end development will really show its worth. You'll see bits in pieces of this in the much nearer future, as we start to expand Dynamic Warfare and so on, but there's a much "bigger picture" that is coming down the road.

Hopefully a display of some of the major feature definitions and bullet points, and target milestone dates, will help people get a clearer picture of where we're headed.. and when. We will also be opening up the Trac system, so you'll be able to see when tickets are created and the like, but I'm not making any more promises about that.. hopefully it'll show up in the next couple of months, but if not, then I needed to spend the time on the game for some immediate reason.

Immediate Bits and Pieces

On a final note, you will see some other bits appearing shortly, such as additional missions and potentially some new addons, variants, and minor content drops. We haven't had a chance to do much of this for the last couple of months, but we will do some during December.

That's all I have for now, please let us know if you see any problems in the game, and keep posting to Suggestions and the other forums. The feedback on the relatively-recent changes (Economy, etc) is welcome, and there are several Suggestions threads in which I have major interest, but just didn't have a chance to respond. So, please keep that feedback coming, you'll definitely see some of it manifesting in the game before the month is out.

Additionally, please be kind to any newbies who arrive during the December promos. We're fortunate to have one of the best communities of any game, and hopefully you're all willing to show that to a few new people :). Happy Holidays, everyone.

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Guild Software, Inc.
Vendetta Online 1.8.49
- Improved Updater robustness
- Three new missions available in Corvus Barracks stations
- All the full-install download packages are now up-to-date and require no additional patches (for now).
VO 1.8.48:

- "Very high" resolution textures now available for the very bumpy "bone" asteroids. These textures are only enabled by default on videocards with 256MB or more video ram.
- New "Re-normalize Normalmaps" option allows better visual quality in bumpmaps, especially the new high-detail textures, but at a trade-off of increased load times (unless all textures are pre-loaded).
Vendetta 1.8.47:

- Added Video Option to reset FOV and HUD Size upon video resolution change.
- Fixed issue with changing HUD size while being damaged.
- Made improvements to server stability.
Vendetta Online 1.8.46:
- Sell Selected... menu now includes profit/loss information.
- Zoom out command now restores the FOV to the previous setting instead of 75.
- A dialog now asks if the current desktop resolution should be selected as the initial resolution for fresh installs on Windows and Mac OS X.
- FOV is based on aspect ratio of selected resolution for fresh installs.
- HUD scale size is selected based on initial resolution for fresh installs.
- More F5 HUD scale modes have been added for fresh installs.

If you do not have a fresh install but want to try the new settings, delete your wgaf.cfg file.
VO 1.8.45 includes:

* Kill Forgiveness: Players may now "Forgive" PvP kills in faction-standing loss situations. A window pops up for the dead player, permitting them to "Forgive" the kill, within 15 seconds. Forgiven kills have no impact on the killer's standing. This is necessary for the impending Friendly Fire removal and other features.
* Changed 'Sell Selected' button in Commodities Sell tab to 'Sell Selected...' to indicate that another dialog appears when the button is pressed.
* Corrected size of speed/energy/distance HUD indicators for wide-screen modes.
* Corrected aspect of loading screen and startup splash screen for wide-screen modes.
* Fixed trade xp exploit where it could be acquired at inappropriate times.
* Fixed bug where changing from one resolution to another with the same height wasn't resizing the interface.
* Corrected ship buyback price display when not all items were bought back.

A brief explanation of Kill Forgiveness: if someone kills you, in a location where they will lose faction standing as a result, you will have the option of "Forgiving" the kill, allowing them to not lose faction standing. This is a PvP-only thing, intended to help situations where accidental kills may result during grouped play. It's also very important to the upcoming removal of Friendly Fire restrictions, as this kind of accidental kill may become more common.
Meant to be Seen 3D, along with AMD, ourselves, and other game-related companies are supporting a new stereoscopic gaming survey. Survey participants can win a number of cool prizes, including some of the latest ATI videocards, iZ3D stereoscopic monitors, and several Trial Keys for Vendetta Online (keys which may only be used on accounts which have never been subscribed). Link below:


Space MMO lets players create new content.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, October 16th 2008. As of today the space-combat
MMORPG "Vendetta Online"(tm) is allowing subscribers to directly
participate in the development of new content for the game's universe.
Developer Guild Software, Inc, has launched their new "Player
Contribution Corps", a community of game subscribers with access to
building and testing new missions, creating new user-interface features
with direct access to source code, as well as other avenues of content
creation. The powerful yet intuitive mission editor permits players to
autonomously build and test new scenarios on the official Vendetta
Online test-server. Once completed, the missions may be submitted to the
greater "PCC" community for review and feedback, the completion of which
sends them on to the development staff for final approval and placement
in the production game universe.

"We're very excited about this new community of involved players,"
commented John Bergman, CEO of Guild Software. "For some gamers, the
attraction of creating new content, telling stories of their own and
watching others respond to them, can outweigh even the fun of playing
the games themselves. We hope to give this group an outlet with our new
PCC community." Unlike some of the few other MMOs offering degrees of
player-created content, all development approved for the Vendetta Online
universe must stay within the context of the established backstory. "We
see it as a bit like Lucas's 'Expanded Universe'," Bergman continued.
"We have provided a backdrop of history, politics and war that has given
rise to the current galaxy; our players are welcome to tell their own
stories within that framework." Since development began on the "PCC" and
editor in 2006, close to a thousand missions have been built by users
beta-testing the system. "People have constructed trees of elaborate
espionage missions, large space battles, all sorts of different
scenarios, many of which have been propagated into the production game,"
said Bergman. For more information about Vendetta Online and the Player
Contribution Corps, see the website:

About Guild Software, Inc
Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Guild Software was founded in 1998 by a
group of longtime friends with a shared interest in game development.
Since inception, the company has exclusively pursued large-scale
multiplayer environments, developing a completely proprietary MMO engine
from scratch and culminating in the successful retail launch of Vendetta
Online(tm) in 2004. A small but focused company with a multiplatform
background and an independent outlook, Guild Software continues to
actively expand their main title and work towards their Vendetta Online
2.0 goals: the next generation in unbounded, evolving worlds.
Hello everyone, a few updates on the.. last news post that I made. The universe-redux work has been a little delayed by a few architecture issues that had to be addressed here and there. This has all been happening in the background, and I've been making extensive use of the new dynamic object editor to bring you new addons and ships and thing in the meantime. So, a bit of a recap of background developments:

Universe Redux

This is still in the works, we'll hopefully be seeing it taking shape before the end of September. This won't be a massive "reboot" to all sectors and asteroids, contents and locations, this will roll out first in one system, then begin to happen in others. I think this will be very cool, and am rather jazzed about it.

Border Defenses

I put some "test" turrets on the Verasi border a few weeks ago, mostly to gauge feedback from the community and get an idea of their relative utility. One of the most common suggestions was to instead place the bulk of turrets on the "outside" of the wormhole, facing gray space, where they would be more effective in their intended application of keeping Bad Guys At Bay. Unfortunately, this hasn't been technically feasible, because turrets have always been tied to stations. So, I couldn't put them anywhere that a station was not already present. This is being changed and worked around, and should be completed by the end of the week. I may not have border defenses in by the end of the week, but probably next week. This will change some game dynamics, but not tremendously so. I fully expect pirates and other baddies to be able to pass these defenses. As I've mentioned on the forums, I intend to use a layered approach with various different levels of lethality to make Nation space a bit "more safe" while also protecting newbies in core Capitol systems. However, I'm sticking to the "no absolutely safe place" philosophy that has underscored VO since the beginning, and this is just another aspect of that. As I mentioned on the various threads, border defenses are a critical step towards dropping all Friendly Fire restrictions.

Border Skirmish and Other Excitement

A redux of Border Skirmish will move hand-in-hand with some of the "universe redux" work mentioned above. Michael and Andy have been putting in some time on the back-end of Kourier, which powers the Hive-based gameplay, Border Skirmish and other areas, to improve our ability to debug problems when they arise. Michael has engineered a whole new logging system, hopefully appearing in production this week, which should make it a lot easier for us to track down problems that occur in this highly complex system. We're going to be drastically expanding Kourier's responsibilities to include dynamic warfare amongst minor factions, linking demand to supply to manufacturing in the economy (making station blockades relevant), etc. This is a lot of heavy stuff, so clearly we're going to need some powerful tools to debug the inevitable issues that arise.

Early Level Tweaks, etc

I'll probably be changing around some aspects of ship availability and other areas, in the near future, to try and streamline the new user experience.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I've been trying to make content and mission drops on a weekly basis, since we've had all this other invisible work happening behind the scenes; but now that I can actually move forward with some the universe-redux work and other areas, these might become a little less frequent. When my time gets occupied with bigger development, I have less time for content development. Hopefully our PCC people will also continue coming up with cool new missions and such, which I will also be doing from time to time.

To reiterate, I am shooting to have many of the above mentioned topics, visible within the game before the end of the month (some within the week, perhaps). So, you can expect some significant changes in the near future.

Take care, everyone.

I imagine you've all seen the various new addons and things that have made their debut since the new dynamic-object-updating tools have gone into production use. This has been super cool for me, as I can create, prototype/test, and roll out new addons and ship variants without having to do any kind of visible update, server restart or client patch. It all gets pushed out invisibly. You can expect more "Stuff" to appear within the game as I fill in holes in license progressions (ie, the recent low-level Heavy Weapons additions) as well as add new content to the upper levels and major Accomplishments/Badges.

What you haven't seen, as of yet, is the much larger work going on to revise the universe. Our game universe was designed a number of years ago, based on then-common system configurations and some uncertainty about how many users might be in a given sector at once. As a result, it's a bit sparse, and a bit boring. Additionally, in more recent times we've added some cool new features to the game engine, like fogging and the related radar extenders and wireframe-radar-visualization.. but have yet to use these very much beyond our much-maligned Ion Storms. This will change.

Our game was designed, from the very beginning, to have an infinitely scalable universe. 99% of the universe was generated algorithmically, using hand-assembled clusters of asteroids and arranging them in various ways. Through these universe-generation tools, we were able to create our current galaxy, have them generated to fit our intended maps (and star spectra), and distribute our various ores and minerals throughout the systems.

Now, however, I want to change a few things. I want to add some new ores and minerals, rarer and more sporadic than before, reworking our build trees for upcoming Manufacturing (crafting). I want to increase the number of asteroids and the sheer.. graphical interest of sectors. I want combat that involves actually flying through densely packed asteroid fields, sometimes with the lowered visibility from fogging byproducts of Xithricite mining, but perhaps also leaving visual cues to recent ship passage in the foggy clouds. Tense combat of hunter and hunted in regions of limited sensor scope, or stealthy negotiation of enemy territory when surrounded by opponents.. only a stones throw away. I see these things as forums for pirates, espionage, even miners looking for a lucrative load of ore from a dangerous or illegal area of space.

All of this is part of the Plan, and it requires reworking a lot of the existing universe. I wouldn't blame people for being a little nervous at the sound of "reworking the universe", but I don't think there's much to be concerned about. For one, we'll test to be sure the sectors are still relatively fast, even with denser fields. Strictly speaking, I was hand-building denser and more interesting asteroid fields back in 2002 and people had no problem with them back then, so I don't expect to create a lot of performance issues six years later.

Also, we're going to be sticking with the current "footprint" of the universe. At the "system" level, everything will look the same, but the individual sectors will change. Some mineral and ore contents will be generally the same within given systems, others will be totally new. A few new asteroid types may be introduced, along with the additional ores and minerals. Specific information on ore/mineral content in specific asteroids will no longer be valid, but the overall "general" level of a system will probably not vary all that much.

The new minerals will appear in contentious locales, not safe places, and not in large quantities. I have no doubt that you'll all find them very quickly, but they will be rare enough to be very real sources of contest for different factions, nations, even individuals and guilds once Manufacturing becomes more prevalent. This kind of resource contention will eventually impact the price, even availability of specific items to specific factions/Nations. Imagine a more fluid and continuous CtC, where certain items are triggered literally by the number of crates delivered to that faction, but where large routine shipments can also be attacked to benefit one side or another. In this way, both mining/trading groups and combat groups could impact the welfare of their nation. Not to mention the continuous threat of the Hive, who will also desire such resources.

Aside from this, you can also expect border security to be beefed up, in advance of dropping the friendly fire restrictions and finally implementing the various Factional changes I've been promising for way too long. In other words, if you're hated or KoS with a given faction, don't expect a warm welcome at their border, or especially within a nation's Capitol systems. I'm not going to make life impossible for the pirate or soldier visiting enemy space.. just very, umm, exciting. And not for the faint of heart.

We will be taking this all one step at a time. I'm not going to suddenly just.. change the whole universe, one day. That would be altogether too scary. We'll be testing this out in development, and then alter a single system. I'm not going to reveal the system here, but it will become obvious from in-context Game News posts in the near future (posts within the game), and I'm sure it's a trivial deduction for anyone familiar with our gameplay testing over the last 6-8 months.

It is worth noting that yes, this does tie into our larger goals of vast, uncharted universe Exploration. This was something we wanted from the very start, and we even made some major server-side choices with this in mind. While expanding the universe is not an immediate goal, it is a part of what this whole "universe redux" process is all about. For instance, I do wish to add player and guild-owned stations, but I'm not terribly attracted to putting them in the current space. My original vision for our universe included the current systems only as a "central core" of a vast, uncharted galaxy, the beginning user provided only with maps to this well-known region. The backstory even makes references to this sort of thing. To reiterate, expanding the universe is a goal and a part of why we're doing this, but it's not planned for the immediate future.

Anyway, Ray has been hard at work going over our old universe-generation tools, and re-factoring some code to make it a bit more elegant and modern with the rest of our game. Hopefully he'll have it documented and ready for me to play with and prototype by the end of this week, so if all is well I might get to test it on Monday. I don't exactly know what timeframe all this will fall under, but I'm looking for As Soon As Possible, as so much of our other big stuff (Faction changes, Manufacturing/crafting, large-scale combat, economic changes) ties back into this. This isn't necessarily blocking development of other areas, you'll probably see more Faction changes and other things happen in parallel, but it is part of the process of everything coming together elegantly and according to a particular vision.

In the meantime, you'll also see some new missions (mostly focusing on the lower levels, along with whatever else the PCC comes up with), more new addons, some ship variants, and the like. I'm trying to further spruce up the newbie experience, as that's certainly an area where we're still lacking.

In the meantime, please keep those Suggestions forum posts coming, there's been a lot of good discussion on there about a number of areas of the game. Plenty of good ideas and hopefully a few intelligent responses from me.

Thanks all..

Hey everyone, a few words about recent progress and where we're headed. In my last post, I talked mostly about the addition of Voice Chat, and mentioned that we were getting back to work on more "game" oriented aspects of development. Beyond some new missions and other stuff, you haven't really seen much of this as of yet, so a few explanations are in order.

For one, the last major release (1.8.25, last Friday) put into production some of the final touches of Ray's redux of our object-handling system. This has been in the works for quite awhile, I've made mention before of "database changes" and whatnot, and this is basically what I was referring to. Prior to this, all the actual game-content definitions in our game, the ships and weapons and so on, were statically defined in a Lua file contained within the game client. Whenever we wanted to add a new ship, change the behaviour of a weapon, and so on.. we had to release a new version of the game. This wasn't really too bad, since we have a frequent release schedule, but it became rather time consuming and unwieldy to prototype and test new ship or addon definitions. Plus, it made more "dynamic" content definitions more problematic, like those that might be used under special mission circumstances, or perhaps for player Events.

This new system, on the other hand, makes a lot more dynamic data manipulation possible. For instance, we can now (in theory) change most of the parameters about in-game objects live, on the fly, and have the changes propagate out to existing instances of the objects in the game. There are caveats to this, of course, and I won't go too deeply into our various architectural trade-offs. The important fact, for me, is that I can now make new "game stuff" (ship definitions, addons, whatever) and prototype them on the test server, and then push them into production.. all on my own, at any time. Of course, we haven't actually tried doing this yet, and I'm sure there'll be some testing and tuning to go through, but the functionality and toolset are now in place, which is a pretty huge improvement.

For one thing, this makes balancing new items a lot simpler. Instead of the old see-sawing weekly release process, where I could only tinker with nerfing and buffing every week or so, changes can be implemented immediately.. and instantly impact all previous instances of a given item.

This also has a lot of cool potential for player Events and such, where it might now be possible to actually create event-specific game content. New graphics would not be feasible (that still requires a patch), but new stats and behaviour should be easy.

In the slightly longer run, this hold a lot of potential for our crafting system, as it makes the "creation" and tuning of a large array of items and equipment a more easily handled reality. We're still working out the details of how we're going to implement our Manufacturing system (our version of Crafting), but I'd like to shoot for something a bit different and more open-ended than I've seen elsewhere. Of course, this has lots of balance concerns, and the ability to instantly correct issues within the game would be a major boon.

Anyway, this system is still being polished up. Ray is hoping to complete his work on this by tonight (Fri) and move on to other topics. He and I will be getting back to working on the Faction/FF system and universe redux immediately after, hopefully next week. We all know there are plenty of problems with these systems, and they need to be addressed.. Now.

In other news, Michael has been doing some cool work on a web administration interface for us, which could make our support issues a lot simpler to deal with. Currently our support system is all handled via email, which is far less than ideal. Under the new mechanism, users will be able to submit forms via the website (when logged in) which will then open a support ticket and inform various people, allowing us to spread things around and make sure no one falls through the cracks, so to speak (or falls through the spam filter, or whatever else). I'm sure this isn't really the most exciting thing to you guys; but anything that frees up my time, or makes it easier to distribute responsibility, gives me more time to work on gameplay, both current and long-range.

Michael and Andy are also at work on the mechanics of bot-handling for the PCC missions. We currently have two mechanisms for handling NPCs: the older "legacy" system constructed for the PCC editor, and the newer "Kourier" Erlang-based system built for the Hive/Border Skirmish/etc. Kourier is our intended long-term mechanism, it properly handles a lot of uncertain cases, and makes continuous bot control a reality. The PCC missions, however, still use the older system, which makes a lot of desired PCC features more troublesome to implement, and also makes the missions less reliable than we would like. So, Andy and Michael are trying to transition the PCC mission editor, and related aspects, to work with Kourier.

Aside from the obvious mentioned cases of increased reliability, this also makes bot persistency and grouped missions a lot more realistic. Our PCC beta members have long been asking for a tool that would let them create persistent NPCs within the galaxy, each with specific behaviour, reactions, dialogue and the like. With the old system, this is possible but.. inelegant and kind of bad. With Kourier, this is not only possible but exactly what the system was created for. One of the common newbie complaints is how "empty" the universe can sometimes feel. Obviously, player counts and our extremely large galaxy have something to do with this. But also, there really isn't nearly as much automated "Stuff" floating around as there should be. It was always my hope/intent to have a great many types of NPCs flying to and fro at any given time, some of whom might just have interesting drops (the trivial case), while others might have missions and news and secrets/stories, or simply present an unusual challenge. Peculiar NPCs who crop up in specific places at specific times, pirate clans who rove to and fro but can be wiped out by the players, and so on. The more powerful the toolset we have to create this kind of thing, the more diverse and interesting the NPC/bot population will become. And that, I think, will make our universe a great deal busier and more interesting.

Last but not least, there will be a game sale promotion happening over this coming weekend (July 19th and 20th) with Mac Update. So if you have any friends who you think might like to try out the game, this will be a great opportunity to get a couple of months of time at a discount (1/2 price, roughly). I believe there will be a banner ad and some other info posted on their site over the weekend. Hopefully we'll get an influx of newbies from this, so, as always.. please be nice to them :). Show them how we're different from many other MMO communities.

Take care everyone, thanks much, and have a good weekend.
In my last newspost, about a month ago, we announced the integration of a new Voice Chat feature into Vendetta Online. At that point it was in something of a "beta" state: working and tested bit still a bit uncertain. At this time, we're happy to report that it's been working very well, and we consider it "Production Ready" across all platforms. Part of this was the recent addition of a new dedicated voice-chat server to our main cluster, giving us both more capacity as well as a more reliable hosting of the voice chat service in our main datacenter (the previous test server was located in our office).

As recently announced elsewhere, this voice chat feature is actually based on the new multi-platform SDK variant of TeamSpeak 3. We are apparently the first to publicly integrate this new product, and are very happy with the results to date. As far as we know, this may make us the only launched MMO with integrated voice chat across Windows, OS X, Linux/32 *and* Linux/64, all four of our available game clients.

The feedback from you guys, our userbase, has been tremendous, and the new feature seems to be a popular one. There's also been quite a lot of attention given to suggestions for new ways in which we can utilize voice chat within the game, such as voice-based "hailing" of other ships, and different ways to augment and improve large-scale battle interaction and command hierarchies. Guild-specific features will probably be next, although we're kicking around a few possibilities as we continue to learn about this new system.

With Voice Chat now entering production readiness, you can expect us to again move our development focus back to more direct gameplay-oriented features. We will continue to expand on the integration and usage of voice chat within the game, but we also want to get back to more fundamental topics, like the redux of the faction system and removal of "Friendly Fire" restrictions, as well as other long-awaited work on the economy, hive and border wars. In related news, the newer "Kourier" Erlang-based subsystem which has been controlling our many demand-driven convoys, NPCs, battles and other large-scale gameplay, has been working well. It is currently managing a population of between 5,000 and 12,000 unique NPC characters in the game universe at any given time. You can expect us to move forward with our plans to build a lot more dynamic content and gameplay into this system, including sporadic warfare between corporations, NPC pirate clans, and deeper economic ramifications to the everything that happens in the galaxy. But, that's a subject for a later newspost, which will probably cooincide with the public release of our Trac system and development roadmap (hopefully within a month, barring another major unforseen feature, like voice chat).

As always, please keep the suggestions and input coming, especially on event ideas and other special, recurring gameplay we can start including in our forthcoming newsletter (remember to check if you have the subscription box checked in your Account Info). Have a great week/weekend, everyone, and a happy Fourth to those of us from the USA.
I haven't written a newspost in awhile, but now we have something newsworthy to announce:

As of tonight's release (1.8.20), Vendetta Online has integrated, multiplatform Voice Chat in public testing! In other words, using a properly-configured microphone or headset, you can now talk to other people in Vendetta Online (for the moment, only people with whom you are grouped). Even if you have no microphone, you can still listen to other people who do have mics, allowing for enhanced in-game organization. This is the "confidential" project that I mentioned in a couple of previous newsposts. I'd like to explain a little bit about how this feature came about, and what it means for the game as we move forward.

We were approached a couple of months ago by a third-party company developing a multiplatform voice chat solution, who wanted an integration testbed for their product. Vendetta Online being one of a relatively small number of truly multiplatform games (our game is strictly native on each platform, we do not use any wrapper libraries for porting, unlike most other MMOs), they saw us as an ideal production test-case. For the moment, we aren't formally announcing anything about who they are or their product, they'll handle that whenever they're ready.

I know many people are going to be very excited by this new feature, while others may say something like "of all the gameplay and work that VO needs, why Voice Chat?", and the answer is simply: timing. A time-dependent offer to work with this other company came along, and while Voice Chat was not at the top of our "most-needed" list, the idea of adding a major feature like this with a very short integration period was too good to pass up. I state this mostly so our longtime users won't think I've become completely out of touch with all the other areas of the core game that still need work: we're well aware, but this had major benefits with a relatively low time investment.

Voice Chat has actually been in the game for a few weeks now, for small-scale testing by the Guides, and then by the PCC; but we're now ready to open things up to the general userbase. I want everyone to keep in mind, this is basically a "beta" test from several standpoints:

1) The voice chat feature is based on relatively new code, both ours and theirs, and requires further testing. Plus, the entire "voice chat" concept has various caveats on different platforms. Linux, for instance, has demonstrated some problems for people using USB headsets (or any ALSA "second input"), or for those running Ubuntu (pulse audio). We suspect there will be more of these kinds of "platform" type issues to be sorted out as we go along (after all, that is the point of testing). For the moment, we recommend Linux people check the Linux Forum for workarounds. We'll be posting a sticky thread relating to voice chat in linux, with what we know to date.

2) Our voice chat server is currently running on an "interim" machine in our office, rather than a true "production" quality setup in our colo facility. This makes it dependent on our office's power and internet connectivity, both of which are fairly good, but have been known to occasionally have issues. We will be migrating the voice chat server to a more production-quality setup, located with all the other game servers, hopefully in the next couple of weeks. Until then, well, it should be fine, but just an FYI if it should go down.

For the moment, Voice Chat is disabled by default, and must be manually enabled. This is done to be sure that VO itself will remain as compatible as ever, regardless of other independent problems that might crop up with the chat libraries. You can find the controls to enable it in the Options panel. It has been previously tested on Windows XP (32bit), Vista (64bit), Linux/32, Linux/64, and OS X (both PPC and Intel). Please let us know of any problems you find (post on Bugs on the forums, or the platform-specific forum areas).

We had hoped that this release would include an "input device" selection option in the game, permitting you to choose between multiple recording inputs. However, some platform instabilities have prevented that from making it into tonight's update, so you will need to be sure you have the correct recording input configured as "default" in your operating system.

A related bit of general advice: it is usually best to make sure your recording device (microphone, headset, whatever) is functional in your general OS before trying to get it working in the game. Plus, you will *probably* need to tweak the microphone input levels on your OS mixer before you'll be properly "loud and clear" when speaking to others. See the Help page in the Voice Chat Options for more information on viewing mic levels within the game, and guidelines on how they should probably look.

That's about it for the current Voice Chat situation. As for how things will move in the future, we hope to make use of this feature in a lot of different ways down the road. For instance, tying it into a hierarchy-of-groups ("squads") structure for major military conflicts, allowing for "command" players to pass voice commands down to subordinates and squad leaders, along with defining targets and objectives. In the short term, we hope to make chat a more generically useful feature, as well, rather than just a function of Grouping (allowing Guilds to chat, for example, or generic channels). This all has design and implementation caveats that have yet to be worked out, but that is the direction in which we are headed.

On to other news. In my last post, I mentioned a lot of changes to the new-user-signup process, including the 16 hour trial accounts and email confirmation. These are still going to take place, they've simply been delayed due to some time constraints on that individual developer. No worries, these will all appear before long.

There's also work swirling around the public release of the Trac system, improvements to Border Skirmish, changes to faction standing, friendly fire and the universe as a whole, new missions and lots of other jazz. However, I'll cover those in future newsposts, as this one has grown long enough.

As always, thanks for your support, we hope you enjoy this update.
Well, I had hoped it wouldn't be another whole month between News posts, but here's what's been going on:

The mailing list is basically finished, and has been successfully tested on the PCC userbase. We're currently working towards some changes to make our first wide-access newsletter more worthwhile, but we expect it to go out this month. If you are interested in receiving the mailing list newsletter, or especially if you are part of the PCC, please check your account to make sure your listed email address is up-to-date.

We're also in the middle of re-working how new trial signups and subscriptions are handled. New trials will now require a functional email address, and confirmation via a special URL mailed out to the new account holder's email address. This is being done because of the excessive overhead we've experienced on people wanting to recover old accounts, forgetting passwords, or generally not having any way of being contacted by us for administrative problems. Signing up for the newsletter is still totally optional and opt-in (double opt-in, technically, considering the address is also confirmed on signup, and the email confirms their selections).

This process will also make sure people have more information on how to subscribe, how to cancel, where to find more information, and hopefully handle a lot of the common-case scenarios that we usually have to address via support email.

Only one account will be permitted per email address. If an already-used address is entered, a button will allow the person to send a single account recovery email. New trials will also get 16 hours of gameplay, instead of the previous 8 hours, but will not be able to join or create guilds. For those of you who have guilds built on trial accounts, please take notice, you'll need to restructure your guilds with real people (if a previously subscribed guild member becomes unsubscribed, they will still remain in their guild, this only covers new, never-before-subscribed trial accounts).

With some luck, this revised trial behaviour will go into production next week.

I know I said I would be looking at Border Skirmish in the immediate future, and I have a long list of changes based on user feedback and my own time playing, but this work has not yet been completed. Hopefully we'll be back to that very soon as well. I'll be posting a general "todo" list to Suggestions once it's more finalized.

Some of our time is being absorbed by a very cool feature addition that we can't really talk about yet. Hopefully you'll all be able to see the results within a couple of weeks. I hate to be vague and secretive like that, but this involves another company and some outside technology. I do want to mention that it's happening, simply because it is using up some of our time, and looking at the list of things above would probably incline one to wonder "what are they doing?".

Michael's also been doing some cool work on PCC features. Hopefully we'll have the PCC more "production-ready" within the next couple of weeks, in time for our newsletter and other announcements.

I would like to have posted more broadly exciting stuff in here, rather than a lot of fascinating administrative changes, but this is work that we need to get out of the way before we bring in more players. What with there being only four of us, the administrative overhead of, say, answering billing questions, is higher than we would like, and detracts from our actually developing the game. The better we can optimize this through more streamlined signups and information availability, the better.

Thanks everyone, I'll try to post again within another week or two, and get these newsposts back to being a more frequent event.
Sorry it's been awhile since the last newspost. The truth is, we've really had our noses to the grindstone, working very hard and trying to get the game, and our various administration infrastructure, ready for marketing over this coming summer. "Summer" being just a couple of months away, so you can imagine we have a lot to get done, which is why I haven't been poking my head up as often to write newsposts or comment on the Suggestions forum. There are a lot of projects going on in parallel lately, I'll just cover a few high points that you should see manifesting over the next couple of weeks:

I've spent most of this week upgrading the hardware and software on the machine that serves our Trac system, as well as email and other functionality. Part of the historical problem with exposing Trac, was that if people found it interesting, the machine would be crushed under the load of serving (the machine was slow, Trac is also kind of.. slow). This is now vastly improved (about 50 times faster, literally), and it should be able to handle a pretty decent amount of traffic (digg/slashdotting? who knows, perhaps we'll find out). In any case, it's at least feasible now, and there are some simple fallbacks we can use if we have to scale up capacity in a hurry. I'm not saying that I'm exposing Trac next week, I still have a lot of work to do on the content, but I am shooting for a significant (and publicized) release in early summer. I know I've set and blown a lot of different goals for releasing our forward design documentation (via our Trac/Wiki), but this one's pretty concrete, and we're gearing up in a lot of different ways.. which I'll go into below. Making sure the machine won't totally explode is one small piece of the puzzle.

The other thing I'm bringing online with that same machine, this week, is the Vendetta Online email list. We've had this little check-mark thing in the user info for.. ever, saying "hey, do you want to receive email from us, game updates, event news, etc?" But, we've never actually gotten the email list online. I should have this running by later today, and next week Andy will be tying it into our database and web system. An email list may seem like a pretty boring thing to be adding, but we see it as one step towards having a more cohesive community, where we can announce different Events and things going on in the game (which is also incentive to.. actually have more things going on in the game), and hopefully bring our community together a bit more. I think it'd be really cool to set up some big events, and send out some emails and try to get a whole bunch of people on at once. It'd be useful for our scalability testing as well.

This will be work hand-in-hand with various other, related, non-game changes.. like making the PCC into a fully "production" quality system. Player Contribution Corps members can testify that we've been making quite a lot of changes and improvements to the mission editor over the past month or two, and we're going to continue with this over the coming month. Once the PCC system is considered "release" quality, rather than the various alpha/beta stages we've had over the past year or two, we'll probably do a related press release. I expect the PCC system to be released and integrated into the website as a whole, within the next few weeks.

Ray has been completely reworking how the game is aware of player-usable content. Such as ships, addons, trade items, ores, etc. Much of this has been held in static Lua files to date, and this has been slowly moved into the database over the last couple of months. The whole point of this being to let us add new items more quickly and have greater control over how they're put into the game, and even manipulate them dynamically. Historically, we've always had to do a client patch and release in order to add or change any little thing (from a ship's mass to a weapon's ammo capacity or firing effect). This has caused us to be rather.. slow about adding new "Stuff" into the game, and Ray's new setup should be far more elegant. Of course, it's taking him some time, since we keep pulling him off task to fix bugs, or add functionality for someone else's project, or the other day-to-day stuff that comes up. Regardless, this is a long-term project, and it's coming along well, and I just wanted to give an update on that.

On the more short-term front, we're looking at putting some potentially very cool (and unexpected) new functionality into our client Rather Soon Now. But, we cannot discuss the specifics of it at this time, due to confidentiality agreements and other developments in the works. Things are still a bit tentative, but if integration goes well, you'll be seeing it within weeks (not months).

Aside from PCC changes, I've had Andy doing some rather boring, but necessary improvements to our signup system and administrative consoles. Basically, we're looking at doing quite a bit of marketing within a couple of months (July?), and when that happens, we need to put our best foot forward while keeping our administrative overhead as low as possible. The more time we spend talking to confused users who subscribed the wrong trial account and want their characters moved, the less time we spend actually making the game better, and this will only get worse with more new users. In addition, we're going to be expanding the trial period to 16 hours, along with.. a lot of other changes, mostly minor but significant to us. You should see this take shape over the next couple of weeks.

Gameplay! Yes, we're still working on that too. Next week I'll be taking another look at Border Skirmish and our other recent gameplay, and see about pushing that to the next level, along with getting back to basics on fixing the faction system and economy. Both of those are huge, and we may be hard pressed to pull together the resources to make them happen within 2 months, but we're gonna try to improve things as much as we can. We may have a need for further large-scale Border Skirmish testing as well, to get a fairly solid idea of exactly what we can push on the server side, so we may be using the new email list to bring in a lot of players to participate at once in multiple skirmishes, and see how that works.

I need to re-organize a lot of content on the Trac system, and write a bunch more, before it's ready to roll, but as I stated earlier.. that's actually going to be something we're going to announce with some publicity by early summer, so I'll be spending a lot of time on Design over the coming weeks. Because of this, I may continue to.. not be real visible. I still scan the Suggestions forums, and I reply if necessary; but I've been trying to stay focused and Get Stuff Done Right Now. I am sorry that more of our productivity hasn't been real visible, except perhaps to the PCC people (who seem more inspired by our changes, which is great!). Of course, the PCC people can't really talk about PCC stuff publicly, so you'd probably never hear. You'll have to take my word for it that we're working our respective asses off, and that's the only reason for the somewhat sporadic presence of myself and others on the forums and in-game. Personally, I am the most focused and productive that I have been in, well, years, which I take as a very good sign. So, again, sorry it hasn't been all that visible in terms of content drops, but a hell of a lot's going on behind the scenes, and I think you'll start seeing it bubbling to the surface over the next week or two.

Going back to the Suggestions forums again: please DO continue posting, there've been some good ideas and discussions on there lately. Ones that I would have liked to have weighed in on, but I tend to write large, involved posts that take up a lot of my time, and well.. see the time-management stuff above. But, please be aware that I AM reading the posts, and would like to continue seeing that feedback. As I get deeper into updating Trac, you may see me reviving some older threads, looking for additional commentary, before it gets Officially rolled into our design docs. So, please continue the feedback on Suggestions, it is well received, even if you aren't seeing as many of my replies as you used to. Umm.. come to think of it, after I finish writing this, I'll be posting on Suggestions, asking for Border Skirmish feedback, so feel free to post your impressions.. I'll be considering them next week when I'm re-assessing that aspect of the game.

Last but not least, we also have some server rearchitecture work to do, which will bring about some scheduled outages, hopefully very short. Michael and Andy have completely redone how server startups are handled, it's faar more elegant now, which is a big benefit to our ongoing administration and maintenance (server startup become a hell of a lot more complicated with Kourier and such, and that's been simplified). We're also renumbering to a new and larger netblock, moving to a VRRP enabled routing setup on the upstream side (redundant router fallover, less likelihood of downtime), migrating three servers around and bringing three more online, all of which should make for a VO server cluster capable of handling a significant player influx and a lot of intensive gameplay (Skirmishes, etc). An additional 10-megabit permanent torrent seed is coming online, which should speed up new downloads even further, etc etc.

Anyway, that about wraps it up for now. I need to go write that Suggestions post, and finish up some of this systems/engineering work. I know none of this is as exciting as us.. I dunno, pilot-able capital ships that land on planets or something, but it's all work we've needed to do for a long time, and it pretty much has to happen before we try taking the game to the next level. As always, thank you all for your support and long-suffering patience. It's these times when we (the developers) are the most silent, that are usually the hardest on our userbase. And yet, our silence only stems from the intensity and focus being applied to the game which carries our collective hopes.

It's been awhile since the last newspost, due to my recent absence / fun with trying to fly during snowstorm season, so here's an update on where we are now:

Border Skirmish: Andy and Michael are working to improve the way NPC targets are allocated, to make for cooler interaction with the NPC pilots during skirmish events. As it is right now, there's a tendency for fighter craft to completely ignore other fighter craft (players or not) and fly directly for the capships, where they immediately die in a colorful fusillade of turret fire. This happens, because the current NPC targeting prioritizes those enemies who have done the most damage. Since the capital ships in these big battles tend to last a lot longer than the fighters, they build up high priorities. All of this ends up looking kind of dumb, and not being as much fun for the real player participants. So anyway, a fix is in the works, probably an evolutionary step towards more complex NPC/PC grouping and targeting behaviour. You may also begin to see "bombers" appearing as a more visible class in these battles, at least for the purposes of testing these behaviours, but without actual Torpedo class weapons (until further turret modifications take place). Once we rework some of these back-end mechanics, it'll make the expansion/improvement of the various skirmishes (Border, Hive, etc) easier and faster to implement.

Hive Changes: A bug was causing the Leviathan(s) to be effectively impossible to defeat, once all the Bastions had been destroyed. A fix for this will be going in tonight, along with a general Hive expansion-restart (jumpstarted to four Bastions). So, once this is in place, a well-organized group of 7-10 players should be able to destroy a Hive once again. As this whole expansion/destruction process becomes a bit more tested and streamlined, we'll start to make the drops and destruction bonuses more valuable and important to other gameplay (like, say, crafting).

Small UI Changes: Some development has gone into creating new mechanisms for various Kourier (and other) based gameplay to communicate with the UI (for example, displaying battle progress). This is important for a lot of the new "big battle" and other large-scale "event" type gameplay that we're working towards. You should see some small examples of this in production this evening.

PCC Missions: Ray has written a bunch of cool improvements to the mission system, to allow us to keep clear, dynamic lists of the current mission objectives in actual mission log. We're going to try to start using these features in some of the more obvious missions that need them, such as the various mining missions ("Go mine us 50 crates of ore", etc) where there's been a lot of confusion arising from the existing objectives and descriptions. Information on how this all works will also be posted to the PCC forum in due course, for the benefit of our PCC members.

Addons & New Stuff: Ray has been working, off and on, to move a lot of the "content definition / creation" information from static Lua files into our database. This week he's moving forward with building a new web-based tool suite that will allow us (and specifically, me) to create new addons, ships, and other types of content, test them easily, and push them into production. The benefits of this kind of system are significant, they make the prototyping of new weapons or other items a lot simpler and less time consuming, and also make it possible me for to add or edit items without requiring a client patch. All of this will be very important, going down the line, with crafting systems and other usages of items/ships/addons. Having all the data definitions be dynamic and database-accessible will play a big part in future gameplay mechanics, which is part of why we're trying to get it out of the way now.

Bugs: We've had some server-stability problems over the last few weeks, which we've managed to track down and temporarily work around, while we fix it properly. On the upside, we've had upwards of 40,000 NPCs in the game, doing various things in both virtual "simulated" sectors that aren't actually running, as well as in running sectors with other players, and the continual transitions between the two. This is a good sign for future scalability of the new Erlang-based back-end we call "Kourier", and we're continuing to add fault tolerance features and instrumentation to let us watch how the whole system is performing. This will hopefully let us foresee some of the more obvious system-scalability problems in advance, and also give us good data on our working limits from occasional stress-testing.

Server Changes: Related to fixing the above instabilities, I'll be doing some maintenance this coming week on our server cluster. Because of this, we'll probably have a small scheduled downtime somewhere in the next two weeks (an hour or two, during low usage time). During this combined bugfixing / upgrading process, we'll also be bringing online five new dual-core cluster servers, to further improve our capacity to handle various large-scale gameplay (Border-Skirmish-like stuff, and so on). I'll post about the scheduled downtime when I'm closer to being ready to roll out.

That's about it for now, please let us know of any problems you see, and continue posting new ideas to Suggestions (for newbies, it's recommended you read the sticky listing previously made suggestions before posting).
Hi, it's been a little while since the last update. Holidays and so on, hope yours were all happy ones. Anyway, the game is coming along pretty well, a lot of work still going into the same major areas as last time I posted, but with a few cool new updates:

For one, you may have noticed we've hit our Vendetta Online 1.8 milestone. This isn't really a very exciting milestone from an external standpoint.. the game doesn't look much different (there are three independent Hives now). It is a *very* important milestone from our perspective, however. We've spent a little over a year rewriting a large chunk of how our game's back-end works. How bots get sent around and told what to do, even what language is used to develop certain areas. This has been slow work, but we've finally hit a point now where it is considered "production quality" and we're ready to move forward with new actual gameplay (yes, amazing, I know).

The first appearance of this New Actual Gameplay should be the redux of Border Skirmish, which, with luck, will be appearing in production this weekend. If something bad should crop up, of course, we'll hold off, but so-far so-good in testing to date. This version of Border Skirmish is written a little differently than the previous one, and stems from a few basic ideas:

The skirmish takes place every four hours, between the Serco and Itani (currenly only in Deneb B12, but more on that later). There's a persistent mission posted to "advertise" the event, as a placeholder (shows starting time, etc, auto-aborts if taken), and is replaced by the "real" mission when the actual event starts. Each side has a certain number of "casualties" they are willing to take before retreat (1000). Each side uses fighters (1 casualty each) as well as capships (varying by scale up to 800 for the Heavy Assault Cruisers). Participants will have a little graph on their HUD, displaying the number of casualties remaining per side. The first side to hit 1000 (arbitrary number, all of which are subject to tweaking) will retreat and "lose" that skirmish. Weekly Border Skirmishes are planned to lead up to a major battle held on the weekends, probably at 8pm CST on Saturdays or some such (still working on this). Win/loss outcome will affect factional item availability (not sure how yet), and medals, ribbons and newspost mentions will be awarded to those deserving. UIT people will be able to take part on either side, but will be *locked into their choice of side*, and in the future will not be able to hold higher-level positions in the respective nation militaries (this is still a little ways off, but just an FYI).

This new version of Border Skirmish is written entirely within the Kourier framework, the "production-ization" (is that a word?) of which is a big part of the above-mentioned 1.8 milestone. When this new Border Skirmish goes online, that will mark the end of Deliverator and hopefully a new road to scalable and interesting new gameplay.

Anyway, back to the gameplay and where we're going with it. We have always intended to have some form of continuous conflict, representing the Serco/Itani war; and potentially also sporadic conflicts in other areas, representing the shifting alliances of the various corporations and their sometimes cutthroat competitive enterprises. The exact form this warfare will take is still not entirely certain, but the general idea is that individual sectors will be able to swing from one side to another, giving the winning side access to the resources therein (minerals, ores, stations?). This new form of Border Skirmish is a testbed of some of those concepts, on a smaller scale; much as the original version tested the usage of capital ships in combat. For the moment, we'll play with this, and use it to see how well things perform, what sort of gameplay mechanic tweaking is necessary to keep things balanced and fun, and so on. As time goes on, the conflict in Deneb will probably expand, until control of the entire system may fluctuate.

It is worth noting that we originally planned to do this.. a year ago. Things didn't go quite as planned, a relatively common thing in the software world, but we're happy to be here now, and very excited about where we're headed.

In other news, Ray is still hard at work making a cool new item editor that will allow us to much more easily create, test and roll out new gameplay content. Andy has had a lot of tweaky back-end stuff on his plate, related to the 1.8 milestone, but will shortly be getting back to making the bots a lot cooler and more useful in the sort of large-scale galactic conflict towards which we're headed.

For those curious about some of the other goals, like the Faction System Redux, no worries, those are still coming.. in fact, the faction system has to be redone before we can really do this conflict thing on a large scale. As it is, we're forced to just keep conflicts to unmonitored space, but this will change. Station assaults, here we come!

Anyway, that's about all for now. Hopefully you're as excited about this as we are. A lot of different areas of gameplay are finally starting to change and come together, and I'm excited to see how it plays out. Think of it as fresh rains coming after a lengthy drought. Except it's raining.. capital ships. Yes. Ok, losing the simile.

Have a good one.

It's been awhile since we had a newspost, so here's a brief one to mention a few things in the works over the last few weeks (and weeks to come).

We're still working towards our 1.8 milestone, which will hopefully include three different Hives and a fully distributed Kourier back-end. Erlang (the language used to develop Kourier) is built to be distributed, but so far we haven't done so. Now that the system is beginning to go "prime-time", we're going to balance it across the entire cluster, to make sure we have a stable and scalable base on which to build future gameplay features. Michael is working on this, at present, and once we've done ample testing, we'll be rolling that out.

Andy has been working on his bot redux for some time now, but keeps getting sidetracked (by me, and others) to work on more immediate priorities. For the last couple of weeks he helped me out tremendously by adding a lot of new functionality to the PCC mission editor. We also have a greatly-rewritten version of the editor "engine" that is not yet in production, but has vast speed improvements. Part of the problem with writing missions has always been that the editor becomes very sluggish once the mission reaches a certain level of complexity. This was due to decisions we made early on to try and keep the editor compatible with all browsers. We've since abandoned this and required Firefox (as PCC members can attest), and now we've also scrapped most of the "compatibility" oriented code for an editor with better performance. Editing large, complex missions, like the recently-released "High Risk Courier" mission from Corvus, are now much easier to develop and fix. Some of this work is still ongoing, however, as the "new" editor still has some outstanding problems, and there's a few features we have yet to add (like the ability to pick a random asteroid sector *without* a storm). These changes will make a big impact on mission development, and even make it possible to release some already-submitted PCC missions from the userbase (a common problem has always been the desire to use asteroid sectors, and then the mission breaking if there happens to be a storm there when the user tries it).

For those who have no idea what a "PCC" is.. I'm referring to our Player Contribution Corps, a group of players who have applied to help create content for the game in various ways, the biggest of which is currently creating missions. The PCC has been somewhat in "testing" over this past year, and hasn't really been fully launched, hence why it isn't linked directly from the website. We are hoping to launch it more definitively in the near future; once we get some of these problems ironed out, work out some issues with the PCC application/approval process and add some features to help the PCC community collaborate on their creations.

Ray is currently on vacation, spending some time with his family, but he'll be back shortly. Over the last couple of weeks he has been moving a lot of "item" data into the database. Historically, we've stored most static information in flat Lua files, which we would change to add or update various objects and items and the like. Unfortunately, this makes it impossible to do anything interesting or dynamic with the items (like, say, rolling out a new economy), and it also makes it troublesome to add new "stuff" into the game. To create an addon I have to edit some Lua files, then push them onto the test server and run a special development client (which may or may not work, depending on development state), and then eventually do a full client patch to push them out to the userbase. We made this choice, a long time ago, as it minimized the amount of data that had to be downloaded by a user when they entered the game (remember, we started development in 1998, the dialup era). We're now moving towards more of a "hybrid" situation, where most data is in the game database and can be updated on the fly, and potentially cached on the client. With this, we can create an "object editor" much like the PCC editor, accessible within a web browser and allowing one to create any kind of object.. ship, addon, trade good, etc, using pre-existing art assets. One could then test this on the Test server, and then push it directly onto the production server, just like we do with PCC missions. At first this sort of tool would be only for developers, but down the road it might be another way that the PCC playerbase could help contribute. Obviously, creating new ships, addons, and other content has a lot of gameplay ramifications, so I wouldn't expect PCC access in the immediate future, but even solely as a Dev tool it will make the creation of gameplay content a much less arduous task. And that's without even touching on the benefits to a new economic system and the like.

Since everyone else is working on critical-but-invisible development (not like anyone's going to go "Woo woo, the Hive is spread across the entire server cluster now, I just can't tell!"), I've been trying to keep a steady stream of new Stuff rolling into the game, such as I can. A bunch of new higher-level missions have been released, along with some interesting new content (Centurion Superlight, Corvus Widowmaker, a.. certain BioCom addon, etc). The Grid Power system is in effect and seems to be working fine and well received. I have taken note of all the requests to drop the Grid Usage of certain non-combat addons, like mineral scanners, mining lasers, radar extenders and the like. I will be doing this. To date, I have not done this because, with Ray in the middle of moving a lot of the related information into the database, trying to update that information before he's totally completed his implementation would have been.. dangerous. So, I've delayed for a little while while he finishes that up. Over the coming weeks I hope to push my focus more towards some longer-term design stuff, and bringing the Trac online and all that. I had expected to be able to do a lot of this mission stuff much more quickly, but Andy and I found a whole lot of mission-related bugs and editor problems, so we dedicated some (well-spent) time to eradicating them.

I also want to add a bunch of new addons and missions to the lower levels of the game. Particularly for miners and other areas which are very starved for content at present. My "hacked-together crafting" missions on the upper levels of the game seem to be fairly well received (and, functional, after a few fixes), so I'd like to add some of that for lower level miners, and some interesting/useful new addons. We're also trying to add more capship related missions.. the High Risk Courier mission was my first big use of capships thus far, they previously had a lot of reliability issues relating to the whole "bot rewrite" stuff that Andy is trying to get done. Anyway, they're pretty functional now, although still not ready for player usage (still working on that), but at least ready for more mission usage. I'd like to see more Group missions involving capships, and.. general military track missions and the like, so hopefully we'll see some of that in the near-term. Some of the PCC people (like PsyRa) have also been working on cap-related missions, and I look forward to those being ready for production.

That's about it for now, I hope everyone's having a happy holidays. It's rather cold and snowy here in Wisconsin, home to Guild Software, but this makes for a lot of time spent indoors productively coding :). As always, please post about any problems to the boards. Oh, and as a sidenote, a user suggested we try Twitter for realtime announcements of new production content (like missions), so if you'd like to follow our new Vendetta Online Twitter, you can get immediate instant messages or even cellphone SMS messages whenever we push out anything new.

Take care, all.
Another quick post to say what's going on, sorry it's been awhile. I hoped to speak more from actions rather than words, and there's been some good progress, but also some delays.

Ray is trying to fix the capship shield issues, which allows the shields to be dropped via some unusual collision situation. We think this may all go back to our original "wingbug" collision problem, so he's going to try and construct a simulation and fix things once and for all. If that doesn't pan out, we have a few workarounds in mind that will at least allow us to move forward with making gameplay hinge on capship destruction. For instance, I don't want to make killing the Leviathan (or Queens, or whatever) a particularly important thing, until I'm fairly certain that it is at the intended difficulty level and does not have any major exploitable aspects.

Speaking of the Hive, Michael is continuing to make good progress there, stabilizing things and getting the overall system to work. We had some nastiness crop up over the last couple of months, including a strange and sporadic problem with our MySQL database server, which we haven't yet been able to track down or fully articulate yet, but which resulted in the Hive going down last week. Michael and Andy and I came up with some stopgap measures to alleviate the issue and reduce the chances of it happening, but obviously we want to fully sort that out before we hinge more gameplay there.

On the upside, you have seen changes rolled out in the form of hierarchical reorganization of the Hive, with eventual goals towards a mixture of general low-level "assault" missions, and a final epic confrontation with the Leviathan. The intention has always been that completely taking out a given Hive would require the well-organized efforts of a group of players over a period of time (perhaps, say, 10 people or so, over 6 hours. Eventually scaling in difficulty as the userbase increases). In this way, pursuit of the upper level Hive echelons will fit into player acquisition of capital ships and other high-level items, via rare drops and unusually-processed ores and the like. We're heading towards this, we're just trying to make it all work right in the meantime.

Andy is reworking how bots.. work. Primarily how they're controlled and what mechanisms are used to transfer authority for their behaviour around the universe. This will be very useful to making more interesting Kourier-based gameplay (Hive and otherwise, Border Skirmish type stuff, even PCC missions with a lot less limitations on what can be done with NPCs). This is not intended to be a gigantic redux process, and he's doing in the background between helping out with other short-term issues (like, say, tracking down strange database connection failures), but he hopes to have it done within a matter of weeks.

Last but not least, it's my intention to get some new addons into the game, and some new missions. I have to balance these tasks against problems that come up (database problems, administrative user drama, whatever), as well as getting ongoing design documentation written for Michael and others. I had hoped to get some new missions and addons into the game last week, using the new Grid Power system, but it didn't pan out, and I'm aiming for that again this week. I've actually been playing the game a lot more (imagine that), incognito, with an eye towards improving and reworking a lot of the lower levels of the game, and building out new missions that inform about the game as much as anything else. We certainly have a gameplay deficit, which we're working towards solving (and soon, not Soon(tm)), but we're also pretty bad at informing the new user about the gameplay that's already there. Without pointing people in the right direction, the game seems even more sparse than it actually is.

This won't be the sole focus, of course, there will also be high level missions, and the new addons (using the Grid Power) will be largely high-level.

If you're waiting for things like the faction and economic redux (or the open Trac), those are still in the works: I'm focusing on this addon/mission stuff this week, as everyone else is mostly working on infrastructure (aside from Michael), and I wanted to try and get as much actual interesting content into the game as I could in a relatively short period of time.

On a final note, we're shooting for a milestone (yes, we have those!) around the end of the month, rolling out 1.8.0 with a fully production Hive in all three locations, fully distributed Erlang/Kourier, and the Grid Power system in production and in use with new addons. Getting to this point will be really nice, for us, and mark a major point of progress after all the boring debugging and infrastructure work of the past 12 months.

That's all for now, please let us know if you find any problems, especially with the Hive or related conquests (like destroying the Leviathan with concussion mine hacks). We need to get that all fundamentally stable and not-exploitable, before we can move on with making it actually.. interesting, valuable and worthwhile.
A few new features and a bunch of bugfixes. To recap the last couple of weeks:

The Kourier-based Hive is now in production, and has undergone a lot of testing and bugfixes (thanks to our awesome userbase for their reports). We still haven't moved forward with changing the Hive gameplay, or expanding on it, we've just been trying to get everything stable before we start adding new stuff. So far so good on that, so hopefully we'll begin expanding on it next week.

There is now a Guild Bank feature, wherein guild members may deposit sums into a joint bank, allowing themselves and others to withdraw. There's plenty of logging and security features, allowing the guild management to determine who can withdraw money, and how much per day. Transactions are logged, and withdrawals can be submitted with a justifying description, which then go into the log (ie: "To buy new ship for event" or some some such reason). We released this on Monday, and then had a number of minor bugs crop up, all of which should be now fixed. If anything else crops up, please report it on the forums or via the bug reporter form/program.

There were some MacOS X crashes related to changing resolution, which we've fixed, and a bunch of other issues here and there.

Moving forward from here.. in the immediate future we hope to focus on improving Hive gameplay, eventually resulting in the appearance of three different Hives (one in Itani territory, one in Serco, one in grayspace) once things are fleshed out and stabilized. In addition to this, we hope to have some new addon-tweaking parameters available to.. me, in the near future, which will make it possible to release new addons without as much concern over "what will four of these be like on a Hornet". I'll post the details of the system before long. I've mentioned it several times on Suggestions, but never in full detail.

That's about it for now. Other development is still continuing in the background, like Andy's redux of bot mechanics, but you will be seeing regular advancements in actual gameplay on a frequent basis for awhile, I think. Yes, the Trac thing is also coming, but you'll have to deal with my newsposts for a little while longer.

As always, thanks much, please post any problems you find.


*** Vendetta 1.7.47

- Added group kill/death notification message and interface option to enable and disable it
- Fixed bug with guild bank buttons being greyed out for members who are both council and lieutenants
- Fixed last aggressor selection command
- Fixed bug when active ship was not listed in ship selection menu if there are no other owned ships at that location
- Fixed bug with setting guild logaccess
- Fixed default text in right-side region of the Commodities Sell tab

*** Vendetta 1.7.46

- Guild bank feature added, with a transaction register and an activity log
- Brand new hive code: quadruple rewards for hive skirmish in storm sectors
- Asteroid ring in Leviathan's sector now contains ore consistently
- Fixed bug which would spew "duplicate remote add" to the log
- Other miscellaneous bugfixes

*** Vendetta 1.7.45

- New PCC missions available
- Client bugs fixed
Just a quick update.. I haven't posted recently due to some server problems and other issues (fun with machine reboots). Anyway, we're aiming to have a few things show up around the end of the week. One will be a Guild Bank system, allowing guilds to pool their finances into a special account, members to retrieve from that account, and so on. There will be plenty of access control mechanisms to allow the guild leadership to determine who can withdraw, and a "log" that displays who did (and why, if they use a description) and so on. This will hopefully appear on Friday, bugs or major issues notwithstanding. Of course, this iteration will be open to feedback and further revision once you have all had a chance to play with it.

We're also moving ahead in the direction of making such banks have more future uses.. further developments in capships and such. Andy is in the process of reworking some of the bot behaviour code, hopefully we'll begin testing parts of that very soon. This will be a major boon to making NPCs of different sizes actually try to behave/fly differently (and more intelligently, according to their scale), as well as opening the door to further bot-behaviour development. Some of the NPC code is rather old, and kind of a nightmare to modify, and as we've been pressing forward with making capships and things more.. useful, we've been running into some limitations. A related aspect of this will be an enhanced toolset to allow Guides and Devs more articulate control over NPCs (especially capships), increasing the persistency of the ships as well as letting us DO a lot more with them in the sense of "Events". This is a stepping stone towards user controllability.. we want to make damned sure the controls work (they don't, right now) before we make critical gameplay hinge on such a feature.

The new Hive is also moving along, a big thanks to all those who have helped test the versions on the Test server. Once that goes into production, we'll be looking at modifying that gameplay, to try and make it more interesting both for large assault-oriented groups as well as for singular players.

On the bugfix front, we hope to have the missile-launch-damage issue sorted out in the near future. It was an unforeseen repercussion of changing how bot-to-bot missile collisions worked, to allow NPC capships to fire torpedoes and other weapons at one another.

And last but not least, I am still trying to get the Trac ready for everyone to see. I have not been able to dedicate nearly the amount of time that I had hoped to, due to.. unforeseen problems and short-term fires of one kind or another (like servers not working properly); but getting the Trac together, and making it public, is critical for both you guys and ourselves as a dev team. This sort of work, of course, has to be balanced against my getting new design written out on a weekly basis (and anything else immediate), so people can move forward with development of the game in a cohesive manner.

One topic of design, which will hopefully appear before long, should allow me to greatly increase the variety and utility of addons in the game. To date, I've been kind of hamstrung by the great "balance" conundrum, but we're looking at adding a few more parameters that should make things a lot cooler (for everyone else) and less troublesome (for me). Eventually we have an eye towards totally expanding the paradigm of "damage" within the game, but that's a topic for a public Trac article.. I'll focus on making that happen instead of reinventing the wheel on here :).

Anyway, that's it for now. Here's to a solid and stable release on Friday with a few cool new features. Nothing mindblowing, yet, but we're trying to get there.
Not quite the update we were hoping for as of the last newspost, but a good one nonetheless. Mostly bugfixes and workarounds, but with a few additional capship types (not that you see them, yet) and some changes to the Swarm Missiles. The graphics for the swarms are going to continue to undergo changes for some time yet, with new specialized cap-vs-cap versions in the works, but I think they're headed in the right direction. There's a specialized version of the Trident (the "Military Trident") which uses swarms, but is only a testbed, working towards a more significant goal.

We've been experiencing a nasty bug, lately, where sectors have been hanging due to a mysql connection error. The error, and the whole cause of the problem, are still not fully understood; but we've implemented a workaround that should keep sectors from hanging, and also notify us of further occurrences, so we can try to correlate the issue and otherwise debug what's going on. Andy had planned to be working on bot AI behaviour, but ended up spending most of his time on sectors-not-hanging, which was certainly critical. With luck, will be back on track with new content generation next week.

The Hive is coming along well, and should be in testing this weekend, perhaps seeing production sometime next week (fingers crossed).

I had hoped to have more turret defenses in place around stations this week, but I was also pulled off-task by some very high priority problems. Nonetheless, Ray and I were able to pull together some cool new features for the swarm missile system (mostly randomness functionality) which I look forward to playing with next week.

That's about it for now. Not a big update, but we'll settle for Stable. More content work next week. Thanks everyone. Brief changelog:

*** Vendetta 1.7.44

- improved swarm missiles
- bug fixes
- sectors will stop getting stuck now
- changing audio drivers in linux should actually work now
Mostly bugfixes, not much for big changes. There should be some more visible stuff next week. We have some Swarm Missile changes in the works, in part for cap-vs-cap swarm usage, which I think people will dig. The new Hive is also still coming along and will hopefully debut next week. Plus, Andy's working on a bunch of behavioural projects, starting with making bots dock more intelligently, and working up to making capships navigate better. I also plan to create several new capship variants next week, with different weapon loadouts intended to allow better server utilization, and therefore bigger capship battles. That doesn't mean they'll be any less scary.. they'll still pack a big punch, it may just come in fewer overall turrets and shots than say.. the current Teradon. Military variants of the Constellation and Trident can be expected to debut in the near future.

On a sidenote, I'm also working on getting the Trac stuff ready for public debut (I know I've said that like 50 times), which includes moving it to some beefier hardware. The current Trac server would be a little too easy to overwhelm (P2 233mhz with 160MB of ram), which would be inconvenient for us.

That's all for now, please post about any problems, and have fun.


*** Vendetta 1.7.43

- modified Strike-Force respawning behaviour
- fixed obscure bug when trying to send buddy note to someone via interface while they are logging on/off
- CHAT_MSG_INCOMINGBUDDYNOTE [colors] chatcolors.incomingbuddynote=ff0000 [chatformat] incomingbuddynote=[Note from <name>] <msg>
- forbid multiple spaces in a row in usernames
- forbid multiple spaces in a row in character names
- fixed bug in Intel 915/945 Mesa check to disable shaders in Linux
- fixed crash when video card runs out of memory in Windows
- fixed crash when calling GetPeerName() on an unconnected lua TCP object
- lua load and loadstring run in the sandbox environment now
- proper lua support for clicking on empty regions of listboxes
- try to prevent crashes when using a lua-referenced iup handle after the control was deleted. It generates a terminating lua error now.
Our ISP will be having a brief downtime between 11:30pm and midnight CST, tonight, to swap out a failing switch blade. There may be two brief outages, each lasting a couple of minutes.

There will also be followup maintenance on Sunday morning between midnight and 4am CST to migrate to a completely new switch. The actual downtime during this period should be very short, 15 minutes worst-case.

Please be aware and factor these periods into your plans. Thanks.
Mostly bugfixes. We had a small number of crash reports from people under certain unusual situations, and managed to track down and squash those particular bugs. So, if you've had any problems with the game crashing lately, it should now be improved.

Strike Forces behave a little differently now, launching in increasing waves with a pause in between. This is part of a buildup towards the Faction / Friendly Fire changes. The number and types of bots in the waves, as well as the timing between waves, will both continue to be tweaked.

Drag and Drop has been implemented in the UI, and the first release (technically we're on now) had it in there, but a few odd bugs were discovered, so we disabled the feature and released a patch. Hopefully we'll get this straightened out and there may be a on Friday with a fix, but if not, then expect it next week. Drag and Drop is a pretty cool feature for our UI, as many have noted, futilely wishing they could drag weapons onto their ship. The basic functionality has now been created, but it'll still be a little while yet before we rework the UI to use it to full advantage. We've never had D&D before, so some functional UI redesign will be needed.

The Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard may now have some support for "G" macro keys under Linux (untested). No guarantees, and Logitech does not officially support Linux. For more information on using the keyboard in this OS, see here.

Aside from this, the new Hive is still in the works, hopefully it will be in testing next week. I imagine there'll be some tweaking time with that, and we'll eventually move towards new hive-related features, but in the immediate term it'll be nice just to have everything running under Kourier, and Deliverator totally turned off.

That's it for now, hopefully Drag and Drop will appear in a release Fri evening. Please report any issues you see.


- Fixed client crashes.
- Strike-force bot group behaviour is different now.
- errors.log file is line-buffered again.
- lua event UNLOAD_INTERFACE is raised when the interface is reloaded.
- lua 5.1 vararg compatibility mode has been removed. You must use ... and the implicit arg table no longer exists. You can do this: local arg={...}
- drag-n-drop support but not implemented in current UI
- Support for Logitech G15 'G' macro keys in Linux version with this:
- Force OpenGL shaders to off for 915GM and 945G drivers in Linux.
There will be some game outages between 3pm and 6pm CST on Weds, Sep 19th. We will be completing the rollout of server-cluster upgrades we put into small-scale testing a few weeks ago. The website will continue to be up during this time.

We will keep the outage(s) as brief as possible during the defined maintenance window, but please be aware of the downtime possibility and schedule accordingly. Thanks.
No release tonight. One of our people is on vacation, and the rest of our work is not yet ready for prime time. Work is progressing on some actual gameplay changes, including some efforts on the factional / friendly fire modifications. We have new Strike Force behaviour in testing, which may prove better than what we have currently. The overall automated defenses of the galaxy are being scaled up, towards something that will be more vigilant, but hopefully also a bit more interesting than a continuous unpaused stream of bots. Border defenses will be scaled up, and you can expect Capitol systems to go "guarded" in the not-too-distant future. These are all pieces of the "faction / FF" puzzle that will need to be in place before we do the most significant changes.

In other news, a new Hive is also in the works, built entirely within the newer Kourier framework. This will hopefully mark the end of the Deliverator era, and potentially bring some gameplay improvements with it.

On a final note, I do intend to try and roll out some new missions this weekend. Our PCC people have submitted some cool new stuff, which I need to review and push out to the game.

I've been a bit distracted lately, but sometime in the near future I hope to illustrate for everyone what we'll be doing in the coming months. It's a lot of exciting stuff, and I think most of you will agree. At the very least, it'll be good to be back to making game-changes again.

As always, thanks for your support, please post any problems or ideas to the respective forums on the boards.
Mostly bugfixes, and a few minor improvements. We're wrapping up the infrastructure changes. We didn't fully complete the work slated for the scheduled downtime today, opting instead to only migrate one machine do some more testing. We'll finish the rest of the cluster next week. This will result in a more stable and well-monitored environment for the game to run on, and greater capacity for doing things like.. cap ship battles and other server-intensive gameplay.

In other news, our internet connection has been a bit spotty today. Cogent had a router card fail in Chicago this afternoon, and we're continuing to have intermittent outages. Hopefully this will clear up soon. Sorry for any inconvenience.


*** Vendetta 1.7.41

- Fixed unknown price values for addons given by missions
- Spy missions should not choose wormhole sectors anymore
- Promoted toggleautoaim from macro to internal command. a one-time error in the console will appear. This is normal.
- Added AutoAim indicator to HUD
- Added AutoAim indicator/notification interface options.
- Changed 'Select Weapons' to 'Select Weapon Group' in HUD Help menu
- Fixed 'Select Weapon Group' value in HUD Help menu to properly show '1-7'
- Changed 'Fire * Weapon' to 'Fire * Weapons' in menus
- Removed missionhelp command because it is obsolete
- Windows Sound driver should work in rare cases where it doesn't find any audio devices
- assert and error are exported to public lua interface
- Added custom 'thread' api to the public lua interface
- gksound.GKLoadSound{soundname="soundname", filename="filename"} function. "soundname" is what is sent to gksound.GKPlaySound("soundname")
The game will potentially be down from 6 to 7pm (CST) today, in an effort to improve our server cluster. This will only impact the game, and not the website. We'll have the game back up as quickly as possible. Sorry for any inconvenience. Further discussion here:
A few bugfixes (a few new bugs as well, now fixed) and a lot of huge background changes. Upgrading from Lua 5.0 to 5.1.2 was a big and scary thing for us to take on, but worthwhile from a bunch of different standpoints. It has better debugging, which will be a huge help for tracking down problems, more advanced memory management, and it allows us to entertain the possibility of compiled solutions like LuaJIT to further improve performance. We've had a few issues crop up during this Lua transition, but we think we've addressed the major bugs, please report anything else and we'll track it down as quickly as we can. As a side effect of this update, game plugins will cease to work properly or need updates. This is because the plugins were written in 5.0, and the upgrade changes around some of the language concepts. We had to do much of the same updating to all of our lua code over this past week. So.. check with the author(s) of any plugins you're using for updated versions, many of which have already been posted to the General and Community Projects forums.

Wednesday of last week saw another major update, which went out with no fanfare. We completely changed how our game connects to the database. It's now much more robust and scalable, not to mention a lot faster at things like.. loading non-running sectors for the first time. After a week and a half of running on it, things seem to be pretty solid.

I know none of this is terribly exciting, but it's making a lot of things possible. We'll be wrapping up this big "infrastructure development" period in the very near term, probably another week or so, and you'll begin to see more appreciable changes to gameplay. A new hive is already in development, and we're looking to improve on that a lot, bring back pirates (but much cooler) and so on. Some of you may have seen some of the capship battles I've run recently: part of this is testing to find a happy medium for doing this kind of thing on a regular basis (think of a vastly expanded border skirmish concept). I have more tweaks to do on the capship side as well, but things are moving along really well. We've had some pretty crazy battles in the last couple of weeks, with a hell of a lot of stuff flying around. I can't wait to build on that.

That's it for now, just a quick note. I'll post more next week about our forward direction and more specifics about game changes you can expect to see.


*** Vendetta 1.7.40

- NPC convoys should now drop the cargo they are supposed to carry
- Fixed TCPListen object in Windows
- Lua has been upgraded to 5.1.2 on the client. You may need to disable your Lua plugins until the authors have a chance to update them. See this URL for more details:
Another not-that-exciting-on-the-surface release. A few apparent bugfixes. Behind the scenes, however, we're making progress on several different projects. First of all:

Yesterday's Downtime - This was necessary for a couple of reasons. The biggest was migrating our core database server to a different machine, which should be able to provide a lot more capacity (I also updated our webserver, hence the small downtime there). This new database server goes hand-in-hand with another change currently going into testing on the "Test" server, totally altering how our back-end reads and writes to the database. With luck, this change will go into production next week, and although there might be some visible speed improvements in cases where a lot of data is read, the reasoning is mostly to make our back-end architecture a lot cleaner and more scalable.

Next, the ongoing project of making capship battles faster on the server, so we can have more capships and more.. stuff going on at once. Ray has uncovered several performance issues, and made some improvements which are now in production. There are still a few other things to be rewritten / improved, and then he and Andy will probably move forward with migrating us to Lua 5.1, hopefully this coming week. Once that's handled, we will probably begin experimenting with LuaJIT on the server (and perhaps on the client, although LuaJIT doesn't do PowerPC or AMD64 at present). A goodly amount of our server load in these busy "big battle" scenarios is used by Lua. Obviously, everything "heavy" is already written in C (like physics, or collision detection), but even "light" functionality, when multiplied times enough ships and turrets, can start to have a sizable impact. This is what Ray is already in the process of reworking, but LuaJIT will hopefully give us an additional speed boost on the server side. Even a modest improvement would be helpful when scaled over our entire game, so it's time well spent. Once these respective projects are completed, Ray will come back to doing more visible changes and moving forward with faction stuff and whatnot. The timing of this "server-battle-speedup" stuff was necessary to cooincide with various Hive redux work, which is described below, not to mention other cap-battle plans.

The great Kourier / Erlang project has been going really well. We seem to have finally cleaned up our memory leaks, and it will soon be time to make new ones! Har har. Seriously though, we've had it in production for a week without any performance or memory footprint problems, it seems to be behaving in the streamlined and clean way we always expected when we started down this road early this year. Michael is currently working on some watchdogging and global limits, to be sure that future (inevitable) Kourier bugs don't result in far too many bots. Next will probably be the redux of the Hive and recreation of all that content under Kourier. During this process I hope to rework a lot of the actual Hive-based gameplay, so examples like.. the Leviathan being properly defended, and Hive Bastions (Queens with Guardians) being more interesting and.. useful to assault. So if you have any ideas specific to the Hive, and interaction with the Hive, please dust them off and post them to the Suggestions forum. After the Hive, we'll start reviving improved versions of Pirates and other work we had to cut out while things were so unstable.

In other news, I have some more PCC missions to push into production, once I take a look at them. The last ones were very well received, kudos to Phaserlight (I need to also help him coordinate on fixing the few issues that did crop up, we're still working on giving the PCC all the features they need. Being able to view and copy missions they submitted which were accepted into production is one of them).

Anyway, sorry there haven't been a lot of Big, Exciting Changes lately. We are making good headway (actually, great headway, compared to the last year of having stuff explode on us), and when we do actually start making some Bigger changes, they'll be a lot more likely to.. work correctly on a large scale. Visible changes aren't too far down the pipeline, either, we should be wrapping up this "scalability / performance" work by the end of the month. In the meantime, I'll try to get a steady stream of new missions out there to provide some new content.

As always, thanks for your support, please post about any bugs or issues to the forums.
I know there haven't been many flashy feature releases going on lately, and not a lot of words from me, so here's a few explaining what's been going on.

The whole migration from Deliverator to Kourier has had its up and downs. Erlang is entirely new to us, and there's been some time spent learning how to use it, how to debug with it, and how to deal with mysterious memory usage (recently). We're pretty happy with how things have gone, of late, as we seem to have tracked down most of the major problems. I posted to the General forum earlier this week, asking people to take escort missions and the like, as we're intensely monitoring Kourier to see how it behaves. The whole point is to make sure the entire environment is as stable as possible before we start giving it more responsibility. So far, things seem to be working well, and we've learned a lot.

Because we've spent so much time trying to tweak and stabilize, we've spent the last week kind of "watching" and seeing if we've actually fixed all the problems. This is one of the more annoying areas of software development: some bugs just don't crop up immediately, or under any sort of automated "testing" you think to devise. Real usage will inevitably expose some unexpected behaviour, then excitement commences. To deal with this, we fix bugs as quickly as we can, and then wait and see if others crop up. During this "monitoring period" we're running the server continuously for as long as possible, which means.. no server releases. Hence why tonight's update was a minor client change without even a protocol update.

While we're waiting and monitoring, we're dusting off other projects that are related to this bugfixing process, such as increasing the performance of the server (and the client) under certain bad situations.. like when lots of capships have a big battle. Hopefully by the end of next week we'll not only have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the stability of the new Kourier infrastructure (meaning, we're ready to move on to making new features), but also improved performance on the server-side allowing new and exciting capship-battle gameplay to be created with that infrastructure.

The other projects, like the changing faction system and the like, are still running in the background, but briefly stalled until we start doing server updates again (next week). I'm also personally doing a lot of server-maintenance work, to improve our scalability and making more fine-grained monitoring. None of this work immediately yields exciting gameplay, but it's necessary to make the new gameplay actually work properly.

There will be some actual new-game stuff appearing in the near future. Our PCC people have created a whole bunch of cool new missions, and I intend to push some of them out into production as soon as I can play through them. Hopefully this weekend, but if not, early next week. In the meantime, thanks for your patience of late, we do want to get back to adding significant features as soon as possible, and things are looking pretty good in that regard.

Here's to a stable and expanding VO.
As I write this, we're in the process of making VO 1.7.32, which will hopefully be out in a few hours. If not, something nasty must have cropped up, but it'll be out this week. Anyway, this is mostly another bugfix release with a few minor added features.

Most importantly, after this point, we would really appreciate it if people report any instances of: 1) the bug where the station shows nothing for sale, and 2) any instances of people being unable to login (even for short periods, like a few minutes). These are the two biggest bugs impacting things right now, and they're totally different, but we're aiming to fix the first one tonight, and add monitoring for the second. However, if either still occur, we'll need all the feedback we can get, so please post to the messageboard (Bugs forum, even General if it's major, whatever) or use the "Submit Bug Report" form.

The first problem has probably cropped up due to some changes made for integrating Kourier, relating to how the station data is sent to the client. Andy and Ray are trying to sort that out now. The second problem is a bit more mysterious, Erlang is pausing out for some reason, and then coming back. We're writing some Kourier-specific monitoring scripts to notify us if it ever happens, and also looking into using some Erlang functionality that'll let us better debug and monitor exactly what's going on. Fortunately, Erlang has a lot of cool tools for this kind of use. So far, the stalled-login issue has not been a significant problem (it's similar to the problem we had for long periods, weekend before last, but that was unrelated and has since been fixed). However, we have seen it pop up this morning, for about 5 minutes.

Migratory bugs like this are a given when doing a major codebase change, the way we have. Like any software company, we go out of our way to try and stress test functionality, and design to mitigate such problems, but inevitably other problems crop up as soon as you're using the system in the "real world". It doesn't say anything bad about Erlang, these transitional and often platform-specific hiccups are part of the process. Overall, things are very stable and working well, but please help us out and report any instances of either of these issues.

On the upside, once we sort through the growing pains, we should have a very scalable foundation on which to build a lot of dynamic gameplay. That is the point of all of this work, and we're very nearly there. Delivery/Escort missions are now entirely on Kourier (Erlang), and working great.

Moving on to brighter topics, Ray has added coloration to cargo crates, much as was suggested here. The coloration only affects their visibility in the game itself, not on radar. Their radar blips are unchanged. This should be really useful for those taking the Orun Processor missions, or anything the revolves around occasional quest-item type drops. There are six classes, ore, CtC, scrap metal, trade goods, addons, and "special" items (special bot drops, mission items, etc). Each class has a different color.

People will also be auto-joined to Nation chat (channel 11) by default, much as suggested here.

That's about it for now. I'm going to be getting back to a lot of design-oriented stuff this week, taking a fresh look at the Faction/FF changes (which have been taking forever), and also the next phase of Kourier evolution: dynamic large-scale combat (sector conquest, yadda yadda). I sincerely hope that the Trac wiki and ticket setup will be ready for public viewing in the near future. I've been distracted for the last couple of months with various immediate-term high-priority projects that crop up. Now, though, I will hopefully be able to focus a bit more fully on documenting things and filling out the wiki for public perusal.

As always, thanks for your support, please report any bugs, keep the suggestions coming, and most of all.. have fun.
Sorry for the delay in recent news. We've been very busy, and there haven't been a lot of specifics to report. A few major projects have been continuing. For one, Ray is making a lot of progress on getting addons to stack, which ended up being a much more complex prospect than he initially thought. I've been buried up to my neck in very important, but boring and completely game-unrelated work, like migrating our mailserver (now finally wrapping up). Migrating mail doesn't sound like something that should be a priority right now, but unfortunately circumstances dictated otherwise. Such is life.

Andy and Michael have been continuing their work on replacing Deliverator with the new Kourier system, and the first examples of that progress should become visible in the very near future (this week). We thought it would be happening last week, and also the week before, but we had a number of irritating bugs crop up, and took the time to do a lot of extra testing. Hopefully (fingers crossed) it'll be pretty solid when it goes into production.

The Kourier release due mid-week will basically represent an interim version, improving on our current less-than-ideal situation, while not yet achieving the goals of totally removing Deliverator. It should fix a lot of the problems with convoy bots piling up at stations, and generally make the whole convoy / escort situation a lot more reliable. We're also aiming to fix several of the other annoying problems of convoys, like making sure they take the same storm jump point as their escorts, and keeping them actually in formation together. Because this is still kind of a "hybrid" release, there will be some side effects. For one, NPC pirates will temporarily go away, along with the related liquidation missions and such. We'll be bringing pirates back eventually, but hopefully in a much improved and less-stupid form. Secondly, the Hive will still be running off of Deliverator, and it should be fine, but the hivehunt missions will only be available at Xang Xi stations for the moment. Even in cases where the missions in question take place outside of Sedina, they'll still only be offered at Xang Xi stations, so keep that in mind.

Once this is released, and hopefully brings us a more stable, scalable and useful NPC framework, Andy and Michael will get back to work on replacing the rest of the bits still run by Deliverator (the Hive) and creating new bits to bring back lost functionality (pirates, etc), then tying it all into what will become the new economy. We expect to be completely free of Deliverator within a month of this interim release. Of course.. stuff happens, but we think the timeline is pretty realistic.

A Deliverator-free NPC framework is our goal, and the main barrier between us and cool server-driven gameplay. Once we get this into place, the first test-case will likely be a more complex Border Skirmish type event, with capships and some element of sector conquest, taking place in the Deneb system. This big rewrite has been a major hassle, but we expect to finally be at a position where we can look at changing server-side gameplay within the next month.

We're also shooting for a client release on Friday. It'll probably integrate some of Ray's work on making addons stack, as well as a number of other minor tweaks and fixes. I'm hopeful about getting some sort of new gameplay bits in there (maybe just some missions), but not totally certain. It depends on how things shake out this week. In any event, sorry for the lack of releases and newsposts of late, we're working to remedy that as soon as we can. Plus, once I get some of these administrative chores out of the way, I'll be back to focusing on gameplay (next week at the latest). I'll post an update then, expect more FF/Faction changes to start popping in soon after.

Thanks again for all your support.
New release with a few new gameplay additions. As I've previously stated, we're moving towards removal of Friendly Fire and altering the faction system. As such, we need improved defenses for newbies, capitol stations, nation borders and so on, and we've revived the old Defense Turrets to serve this function. At present, they're only in testing, showing up in Dau L10, L11, and Itan J11 (these were simply the most conveniently implementable locations for testing, nothing against the Serco). They are temporarily armed with capital cannons and 30k armor, and respawn (flying out from the station to their old positions) 30 seconds after destruction. Once they're proven fundamentally viable, we'll be tweaking their positioning, weapon loadouts, armor, behaviour and so on. You'll be seeing this and other visible changes occurring over the coming weeks, as mentioned in my Friendly Fire Removal suggestion forum post.

Secondly, we've added some new mining medals, specifically for Denic, Pentric and Heliocene ores, with medal levels at 50, 500, 5000 and 50000cu. I know 50k cu of any of these ores is a major task, these are not intended to be easy, or beginner medals, and the descriptions are quite clear on that. Also, as we move towards player-owned capital ships and large mining support freighters, I expect the quantities that can be extracted by organized individuals will increase. Anyway, for the moment, consider the top levels of these medals as "long-term goals". There are not currently any special benefits or equipment from achieving these medals, but I do intend to add them as we move along. I need a few other changes to take place in the game before I can start adding more varied equipment again (more on that down the road).

On the Kourier front, Michael and Andy are making great progress, reworking lots of fundamental aspects of the game's functionality to make for greater gameplay possibilities and better scalability/stability. They still believe they're on target for their end-of-June release date. In the meantime, the Test server may be broken a bit more often, as they're reworking some pretty fundamental code.

I am reading the "quick and dirty" type suggestions forum posts, and other ideas for things that could be added more easily, and appreciate the input. I have a whole list of forum posts that I'm intending to rework into tickets for our Trac system, so keep the ideas coming. Thanks much everyone, hope you're having fun :).


- Itan J-11, Dau L-10, and Dau L-11 are now testing automated station defense turrets
- Three new ribbons for Denic, Pentric, and Heliocene ores
Not a lot to report lately. We've posted some minor bugfix releases and repaired some server-side problems. A lot of work is progressing, and going well. Andy and Michael are moving forward with a plan to get Kourier (our greater bot/NPC backend) completely stabilized and ready for new content, with three independent hives, by the end of June. That may seem like awhile, but there's still a lot of rewriting and code-porting left to be done. Nonetheless, this is a good deadline, and we're all feeling fairly happy about it at the moment. Sorting this situation out will make the newer, "bigger" gameplay a much nearer reality. Once all three hives are in production, we'll put the system to the test with some more involved Border-Skirmish / system conquest (deneb) type nation war stuff, and then move forward with the greater economic redux. Redoing an economy doesn't sound all that exciting, but it's a necessary stepping stone to the "big" stuff we all want: crafting, user-ownable capships, user-stations with user-defined convoys, and the like.

In the meantime, Ray is still migrating and reworking how the database handles certain things, all of which is also important for the above mentioned content. In-line with that, he's moving forward with some of the Faction / Friendly Fire goals, things that will be required for the total new system to be functional. The first I expect to be implemented (or re-implemented) will be station turrets, which will probably show up within the next week, if all goes well. As another notable effect of Ray's database work, hopefully we'll have some near-term resolution to the great "addons don't stack" problem. Probably a simpler solution rather than anything complex, but still, a solution is in progress.

Not a lot has been visibly changing in the game of late, and I apologize for that. With everyone else (mostly) doing Big Important Long-Term Projects, it's up to me to create short-term content, and I've been sick as a dog for the last week and a half. Anyway, I hope to get some new mission trees into production in the short term, along with some other "low-hanging fruit".. some good medal prospects have been suggested, and I need to rework sectors a bit to put in data for the station turrets. So, you can expect some, or hopefully, all of that next week. For anyone curious about the "station turrets", see the thread "On the Removal of Friendly Fire: Request for Comment" on the Suggestions forum. Station turrets will be a necessary part of defending newbies, defending stations (station conquest) and defending nation space.

As the plan for Kourier becomes more solidified, I will be posting more specifics here. We're working towards a more clearly defined, more openly structured development, and this is part of our "training", if you will. We're using our Trac system to define dated milestones for timely completion of this project, and the projects to follow it, with tickets filling out the various milestones. With some luck, it will better illustrate our forward motion and intentions for the game, when the Trac system becomes public. I know we've been keeping that one in the dark for awhile, but with any luck it should be public on or before the time that Kourier becomes "production ready" (end of June), with a roadmap of at least the following six months.

The road to VO 2.0 has been kind of a bumpy one for us all, especially over the past half a year, but we anticipate a lot of sudden forward motion once Kourier becomes stable enough to build upon. We're all very tired of rewriting and re-structuring, and want to get on with making the game cooler and more fun (and in big ways, not this penny-ante Medal stuff). So, as a group, we're all looking forward to getting this out of the way and moving on to the next phase. I'm sure you all feel similarly :).

Please don't be disheartened by the "end of June" date, there will be plenty of activity between now and then.. after all, the whole faction/FF mess has to be put in place and sorted out, not to mention a lot of other groundwork that's been waiting in the wings for some time (station cargo limits, added energy-based parameters for ships that allow more interesting ship/weapon types without causing grave imbalance, and so on).

As always, thanks for your patience and support. If people have ideas for "quick and dirty" content (or any other ideas, for that matter), please feel free to post to Suggestions.
We've had a few releases over the last couple of weeks, and added a few new bells and whistles, but not anything particularly major. We are working on the "major" stuff, but for the moment the bits of it that appear in the releases are still invisible "background" development. Andy and Michael have been working on stabilizing Kourier and are now moving on to documenting and designing how the new greater back-end is going to work. This is pretty critical, and will enable the "big" kind of gameplay we've been shooting for all along. It's also a moment to take a step back and reappraise the way we're doing things.. a lot of the post-deliverator development has been very short-term in focus, mostly just trying to get that functionality stabilized and reliable. But now that we're back to a place where we can actually consider new functionality in the not-very-distant future, we need to make damned sure the whole structure is as scalable, resilient and maintainable as we need it to be. After all, we don't want to put something important on it, like a fully dynamic economy or involved trade/faction war system, only to have things implode in some nasty way.

This is also good in some other ways, since our greater background architecture is getting some spring cleaning. Improvements to the way bots are handled, what they do, how they move from sector to sector, and so on. The impact of these basic improvements will be felt everywhere, from making the PCC missions more flexible (and thus, making more interesting missions possible) to making the existing bots and missions more interesting and responsive to user activity. Not to mention making capships more applicable to real usage and player ownership. All very useful stuff.

Ray is working on Friendly Fire / Faction feature for me, and reworking the way some of our data is stored. Some things have always been kept statically, other data was kept in a database but in a rather unpleasant format, and all these things need to be redone to allow a lot of the "bigger" features we want. For instance, to date the positions of our stations have all be stored statically in lua files, but we're now moving that into the database. This has little import right now, but it opens a door for player-created stations down the road. We've had the chance to test some of this by also releasing new medals and achievements, which depend on some of his new database layout. This is has given him a good functioning testbed on which he can see how things behave in a production environment and make revisions as necessary.

Medals and ship tweaks are ok, I know, but everyone's waiting for more interesting features. The nearest of which will likely be the Friendly Fire and Faction System redux, for which you have all been patiently waiting. I've kept saying I would be posting design data to the Suggestions forum, and kept having some other short-term excitement crop up and distract me from my longer term development goals. Such is life. Anyway, I'm hopeful about actually posting this to the forums sometime this week or weekend. It still needs some work and reorganizing, and a bit of thought put into a few more areas, but I think the bulk of it is reasonable. Once implemented, it should open up some interesting new gameplay, more codifying those who are pirates and those who aren't, and having considerable impact on the way newbies start out in the game and how friends/foes are identified on radar. This isn't a be-all end-all change, it will not feature user-defined radar colors or the various other related features we would all like to see. But hopefully it will fix a lot of existing problems without breaking too many new things, while also taking into account a lot of the user concerns/criticisms of my previous (and much simpler) design. Some of the baseline work has already been implemented, other bits will take awhile yet, since this system touches so many areas of the game. Things like.. treating newbies differently, and their related missions, don't seem directly related, but are a core aspect of why the Friendly Fire implementation has lasted so long. So, anyway, I don't think this will take forever to implement, but don't expect it the week after I post the design, or anything :).

In other, related news, we're using our new Trac system for all of the above development. Myself, with factions and medals and whatnot, Ray on how the database works, Andy and Michael on how bots and the back-end are being improved. Plus various tickets for implementing Suggestions forum posts or revising previous tickets based on user feedback. All of this will be exposed to you guys, in due course. It's still not ready yet.. we're still learning how to use it and populating it with data, but it's going well and I think it'll be pretty cool when it's public. If we're lucky, and things go well, it could be opened up in the coming month. I had hoped it would be live by now, but.. that's life (and game development).

As for this week, there will not be a release on Friday. What development we do have will need more testing, since it's fairly important stuff, so we'll likely do that over the weekend and release early next week. Not entirely sure what will be visible in that, we're still figuring that out. I know the medals and things aren't super exciting, but we're making an effort to have something visibly new in the game on each release. We have some machinations in the works for a few "single-character" medals, ie, medals that are handed out to only one individual on a weekly basis (most PVP kills that week, most xithricite mined that week, and so on), and move from character to character every week as people compete for them. Something along those lines may be showing up in the near future. Suggestions on this are welcome.

That about wraps things up for now. I'm going to go get back to that Faction work now. Thanks for your patience, everyone, and we hope you're having fun.

Quick Changelog:

*** Vendetta 1.7.26

- Added Basic Miner ribbons: each time you sell ore that you have mined (without jettisoning it at any point) you gain a point towards these ribbons
- Added an improved mining gun for Basic Miner ribbon holders
- Fixed bug where group list on HUD wouldn't always update correctly
- Fixed selection problem in Jettison menu

*** Vendetta 1.7.25

- Fixed /buddy note
- Fixed location of group members shown on HUD which were not up to date
- Implemented All-Weather Raptor suggestion: Raptors now have 1500m radar in storms.
- Fixed bug where some ship descriptions weren't being shown
- Fixed crash resulting from pressing F5 during loading
Another minor upgrade with a bunch of background changes. The medals for Hive Queen hunting didn't previously remove the "old" medal when you acquired the new one, due to some architecture problems with the way accomplishments and medals were handed out, and the various different benefits to specific medals. Ray has now reworked some of that code, and the whole system is now better suited to our making more (and more complex) medals that permit new equipment with each new acquisition.

This version also debuts a new minor ship variant, the EC-104, handed out specifically by the Basic Trader I medal. The Basic Trader tree is given out to those who accrue profit on trading: ie, you must buy an item and sell it somewhere else for a profit. The total lifetime profits of your character are recorded, and this data is used to hand out the various Basic Trader awards. Only sales of items that have a previous purchase price will go towards increasing the lifetime character profit statistic. In other words, if you pirate a bunch of cargo off of some hapless person, your "profit" stat will not increase, as that cargo has no purchase price for you.

The EC-104 is a baseline trading ship, with 26 cu of cargo space, and reasonably good handling. It's a lot lighter than the trading variant of the Revenant (and less expensive), but also has far less armor and only one Small port. It's intended only as a baseline trading ship for newbies. Other rewards, for the more advanced trading medals (and future medals) will come in due course.

In the background, work on Kourier continues, and Ray is starting to move a lot of static universe data into the database. Things are moving along, hopefully you'll start to see more "significant" changes in the not-too-distant future.


- hive queen badges now properly "stack" like the other multi-level badges, thanks to a change in the internal representation of accomplishments & requirements
- EC-104 now available to those who have achieved Basic Trader I medal
These two releases, made this past week, bring some minor improvements to the new ribbon/medal system, along with a few performance enhancements, while we continue working on the "bigger" stuff in the background.

Among other things, the Accomplishments display (under Character in the PDA) has been reformatted to be a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Several minor features related to this have been added, such as an Advancement Log update whenever you gain or upgrade a medal, which is also printed to the HUD. New medals can be accrued by hunting Hive ships, as well as trading profitably. You can expect a lot more types of medals to appear over the coming months, for all sorts of different topics. Obviously we have the categories for combat, trading and mining, but we're also aiming to add some dynamic "single-character" medals, such as (just some quick ideas): "Most profitable trader", "Most effective miner", or "Scourge of the Pirates", all of which would be *unique* to only one individual in the universe at a time and would include some specialized rewards. These will be handed out based on rolling averages over a period of time (perhaps a month), rather than lifetime totals, to allow relative newbies to compete for them. We still don't have any new benefits or equipment allotted to any of the newly-added medals/ribbons, but that will come soon enough. The good news is that we've greatly streamlined the whole process of adding new statistics collections, on which the medals are based, which should make it easier for us to add more in the future. Putting together the greater "medals system" has worked out pretty well in the last couple of weeks, although there are still some problems to fix.

On the performance front, 1.7.22 added support for threaded OpenGL on MacOS X. It should only be enabled on Intel-based machines with recent OS X, PPCs should be unaffected by this. Basically, it should allow some video chips on dual-core machines (such as the slower GMA950 GPU found in the non-Pro MacBook, Mini and some iMacs) to use the second core for vertex processing, resulting in an overall speedup. However, it may actually decrease performance for "core solo" (single core) intel machines, such certain Minis, but the negative impact should be minor.

We also made some changes to the way vertex buffers are handled in OpenGL, which seems to have either made things greatly faster for some people, or mildly worse for others, depending on one's driver revisions and particular vendor implementation of OpenGL. As always, we recommend having the most up-to-date drivers, on Linux this would mean a relatively recent copy of Nvidia's X11 binary; on Macs it would mean, literally, a recent version of OS X.

Work with bigger projects is ongoing in the background. Kourier is slowly becoming more stable. Ray has completed a plan for moving some of our currently-static universe data into the database, allowing us to manipulate it more dynamically. The Faction/FF development is ongoing, and you should see some design posted to the Suggestions forum in the very near future (I'm hoping later today, but frankly I also hoped it would be this past Tuesday.. stuff happens, as they say). With any luck, the Factional/FF work won't take terribly long to implement, and will herald the birth of 1.8.

A few changelogs:

*** Vendetta 1.7.22

- Mac version now uses multiprocessor-aware OpenGL by default
- Optimized OpenGL particle rendering
- New ribbon/medal display
- Fixed fog problems with DirectX 8.1
- Medals & ribbons are now superseded by "higher level" versions of the same medal, so for instance if you have Level 3 Hive Queen Hunter, your Level 1 and Level 2 ribbons go away.

*** Vendetta 1.7.23

- some awards now show your progress to the next award in the award tree
- fixed crash when mouse cursor is hovering over the station/ship's inventory list when loading/unloading cargo
- fixed linux bug reporter
- fixed problem with advanced combat mission slowing down the client after performing the mission for a long time
- updated descriptions of some medals
- added medal title to medal description
- new trade medal tree
Not a major visible release, but a lot of work going on in the background. The two apparent "features" in this version are A) that we finally made Effects Detail actually do what it's supposed to do (for some reason, our prior fix didn't work), and B) a new system of ribbons and accomplishments. "A" should be pretty straightforward, hopefully people won't experience as much trouble with Swarm Missiles.. just set your Effects Detail lower in Options. "B" is a little more complex..

We've had requests, for some time now (Hi Bytewriter!) to add more visible medals and accomplishments to the game. We have a few for things like.. well, killing people using an EC-89, or destroying a lot of Queens, but there aren't really very many. We're now moving towards a system that should make the creation of new medals a lot easier for us. The "Accomplishments" interface under the Character panel will change a bit, on the left side will be a series of ribbons, and when you click on the individual ribbon, it will show the full "award" on the right, along with a description of the award and so forth. This makes it much simpler for us to display a lot of different awards condensed in one place (in ribbon form). It also makes it a lot simpler for me to add new medals to the game, since it's possible for me to quickly make the ribbons and descriptions, and delay making the full-sized medal graphic until we have time. Our existing medals are actually quite complex, graphically, usually modeled and rendered in 3D and then worked over heavily in Photoshop. This time-consuming process isn't particularly great when it comes to being able to add new awards.

Simplifying the whole ribbon/medal process also makes it much easier for us to create "campaign" or "battle" specific awards, which will be totally unique for that period in time. Things like "The great Deneb battle of 4434", or even "Winner of the Explorer Contest", Deneb Run placings, Miner of the Month, and so on. Some awards will be designed to "replace" the previous award (like 25 Queen kills replacing the 10-kill award), other awards will "stack", representing multiple recipients with battle stars and the like. Some awards will also provide access to some special new equipment or feature, others will simply be there for show, the specifics of the award being in the description.

It'll be a little while before all of this is in place, but that's where we're headed, and it shouldn't be long before you start to see a lot more types of accomplishments and medals.

For everyone who isn't terribly enthralled by medals, don't worry, we're working hard on much bigger projects. But, as it is with large projects, we keep trying to find something smaller that we can do in the meantime to add a new aspect into the game. Longer development projects can take months, but we still want to add *something* to the game on a weekly basis.

In regards to those large projects, Andy and Michael are working hard on Kourier, trying to improve stability of our pre-existing Lisp code, and also expanding the functionality of the Erlang codebase. I'm still working on a greater plan for handling factional alignment and friendly fire issues, and I think it's going to make most people reasonably happy, and will greatly help with most of the major issues in those areas. Ray has already implemented some features to make it work, although they're disabled until needed. This whole factional/FF thing is going to be a pretty big multi-pronged change that impacts a lot of different stuff, and will all have to happen at once. It has ended up a lot less "simple" than I hoped, but I think the end result will make people happier and solve more problems. Once everything is a little better defined, I'll be posting the general design to Suggestions for player feedback. The system will not be implemented until I get some feedback, and I'll tell people exactly *what* is going to go into place, and how it's going to impact things, well before it actually does. Anything that does result in a significant change of existing faction (ie, choosing between high standing with two opposing factions, where you can't have both), will be left as a choice to the user.

Ray is working on bringing a lot of our general game-data, which is spread around in pre-generated Lua files, into the database. This will be important for everything from economics to our greatly improving our ability to create and roll out new content in real-time, in the live game. For instance, it lays the groundwork for being able to make a "station construction" type interface, plugging modules together and placing a station in a sector in realtime. This has obvious benefits both to our ability to develop content, as well as user-intended functionality like station construction and the like. I don't want to give the impression from this that we're going to be having user-constructed stations in the immediate future (we have a lot of other fires burning), but rather that it's one example of a lot of possible coolness that will be enabled by the database-structuring work that Ray is currently doing.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. As always, please report any bugs or issues you run into, and continue posting Suggestions to the related forum. I haven't been posting there very often lately, but I am still reading when I get a chance, and I'll be going back to re-read and post further as soon as I can. Thanks much, have fun.
A few bugfixes to sort out some issues which cropped up since the release on Friday. Hopefully, swarm missile performance will now be improved for those who choose to use the "effects detail" setting under Options -> Graphics (the total number of particles can be reduced, for those on slower machines). The visual effects which were previously appearing "backwards" should now be correct. More work with Kourier and friendly fire / factions is ongoing. Watch for more on that.

Quick changelog:

- Fixed broken weapon effects
- Fixed pixel shader 1.1 bug
- Fixed bug where storm effects wouldn't appear but storm exit nav point would
- Fixed bug where effect detail setting would not take effect on particle systems (like the swarm missiles)
- Hive and Border Skirmish should actually end (and thus, start) properly now.
Not a major feature release, but a few cool additions nonetheless. Swarm missile trails are the most evident (intentional) change, they now leave long trails behind them. Making this kind of effect possible required a lot of work on the particle system and visual effect engine of the game, which has had some unplanned side-effects that we have not yet fixed. The only intentionally changed effects are the swarms, anything else that's different will be fixed, probably next week. On the upside, though, these changes to the particle system will make more involved (and cool-looking) effects much easier to accomplish.

In other news, Kourier has also been updated, Border Skirmish and Hive Hunt missions should now always end properly, which was one of the more prevalent and irritating problems with those missions. More work on Kourier is ongoing, as we try to improve the stability of the platform, as I detailed in the previous newspost.

Short changelog:

- Swarm missile effects improved; plus general improvements to effects system (some outstanding bugs are known).
- Border & Hive Skirmish should always end properly
The new erlang based system is now in production. For those who haven't been following, we ran into problems with our existing Lisp-based system (named "Deliverator") which handles high-level AI behaviour.. large groups of NPCs, large battles and the like. Over the last couple of months, we've been in the process of migrating to a much more scalable architecture (named "Kourier") based on Erlang, an elegant distributed-programming platform. Lisp has not yet been phased out, we have a hybrid combination of both for right now, while we migrate each part of functionality from Deliverator to Kourier. This is mostly happening on a case-by-case basis, for instance, Escort missions now run entirely on Kourier. But other, less-commonly-used functionality is still running on Deliverator and will be migrated as we move forward.

Fixing this whole Deliverator situation has been a major priority for us, over the last few months. The old system was no longer reliable or stable, although we managed to hack together a situation that let us limp along while we wrote the new system. Again, this problem only impacted certain high-level AI and specific missions, the rest of the game has continued with our usual level of stability. The problems usually manifested themselves in longer mission-update response times on Escort missions, and the like.

What with that infrastructure being so unstable, we could not move forward with our plans to expand its impact on the universe. Much of our new planned content (the dynamic economy, nation wars involving large fleets of capships, complex PvE scenarios with the Hive, and so on) was stalled until the stability of the underlying platform was guaranteed. This migration from Deliverator to Kourier is a big part of making that improvement in stability. We had always planned to migrate to a more scalable architecture than what had evolved into the monolithic Deliverator, but we didn't expect our hand to be forced at such an early point. So, in a sense, this is all for the best, but it didn't happen quite how or when we would have liked.

In the short term, for the next couple of weeks, we'll be watching the new system and fixing the inevitable problems that crop up in a major re-architecture like this. Once things appear reasonably solid, more content from Deliverator will be ported across into the new Kourier system, transferring more and more responsibility, until Kourier is essentially standing alone. In the meantime, there'll be other underlying changes to make bots generally work better (longstanding problems we've needed to fix, but which are that much more necessary now). In a month or so, hopefully we'll have Kourier running smoothly and be confident enough of the greater system stability to start considering actual *new* functionality. But obviously, stability is the biggest priority. No point in building the house until you're sure the foundation is fairly solid.

I know this isn't really the most exciting of newsposts, since I'm basically saying "nothing visible is really changed, or will be for awhile! But.. it's way better, honest!" And that's about as much as I *can* say, at present. But, it's true, and we're at least back to moving forward towards a point where we can even *start* to think about starting to add new high-level features to the system (Hive attacks on stations, real Nation wars, other previously mentioned stuff).

In the meantime, there will be other releases with other new features and content. The work that Ray and I are doing is pretty orthogonal to Deliverator/Kourier, so the whole Faction redux, Friendly Fire removal, ships, addons, sectors and other projects will continue apace, and you'll continue to see new Stuff showing up in the game.

As an FYI to our PCC people, the Kourier redux should lead to improvements in how bots are handled in the mission editor. But don't expect those changes to appear immediately.

As always, please test and report any problems you find on the messageboards. The things that most need testing are, of course, those functions specific to Deliverator and Kourier. The Escort, Liberation, Liquidation, Hive Hunt, Border Skirmish and other related missions, along with general unbot/pirate interaction, are the areas most in need of testing and feedback. Thanks much.
Kourier is now in active testing on the Test server, please see the forums for more information. We planned to release it on Wednesday night, but it didn't work out. As it is now, we're pretty confident in its stability, but thought a weekend worth of testing would be a good idea to reveal any final problems. With luck, we'll have it into production early next week.

In other news, several new ship variants have been added. See the in-game News system (under PDA -> Comm -> News) for more backstory. The nitty gritty:

- fixed mission text for mining tutorial
- Warthog Territorial Defender - decreased turbo energy usage from 60 to 57
- Warthog Mineral Extractor - increased turbo thrust const from 230 to 260, increased cargo from 18 to 24
- Mineral Marauder - dropped hp from 9500 to 7500, added Large port, increased turbo thrust const from 260 to 280
- Behemoth XC (eXtended Cargo), HAS NO PORTS. should cost 2x normal behemoth.
Not a big update in terms of visible changes, but pretty big in terms of what's going on in the background. Kourier is undergoing "stability testing", with tonight as a milestone for production usage. Not that we planned on putting it into production tonight, but at least that it would be stable enough to consider doing so. Next week we intend to do more testing of the system, hopefully culminating in its release. This is a pretty big revamp and server-side architectural change. Fortunately, Deliverator doesn't currently have a whole lot of responsibility, beyond the escort missions and grayspace hive, so if the Kourier rollout should go awry, negative impact shold be limited to those areas. In any case, all is going well thus far, and we're optimistic about actually using Kourier in the very near future.

In other news, this update also makes some background changes which will allow more than one station in a given sector. I intend to make use of this, especially in the more "capitol" type sectors, to create more interesting environments.

- fixed fog rendering bug on linux when glow effect is enabled
- fixed background rendering bug when leaving a sector with a storm
- made group list in HUD show correct information when group members enter your sector
A seemingly minor update, but with a major new feature. As of now, if there is fog in a sector, and the radar range is greater than the visual range (ie, the fog boundary is nearer than radar range), the extra radar data will be displayed "visually" with a wireframe view of what's in the extended region.

Currently, this can only be seen if you have the Storm Radar Extender and go into an ion storm, but the plans to use it are much wider than ion storms. Fog will begin appearing in a lot of other sector types, including a contentious serco/itani "warzone" in Deneb. In addition, this makes "dark" sectors a lot easier to do, or anything with reduced visability.

As we add more features, like object-specific radar reflectivity (read: stealth ships, etc), that will also be reflected in the "visual" display, so various objects will be visible at different ranges based on radar cross section.. and so on.

Lastly, this update also offers a new take on Dau L11 (Dau L10 was replaced previously).
We've just dropped a new sector in place in Itan J11. It was my intention to roll out new sectors for all three major nations this weekend, but it ended up being a more complex process than anticipated. Anyway, this marks a progression towards the general tweaking of the universe for a couple of reasons. For one, Deneb will eventually be changed to be more applicable to a nation-conflict scenarion. For another, major Nation capitols and newbie zones are going to be laid out differently, with the goal of helping new users learn combat and gameplay in more interesting and entertaining ways. In addition, you'll start to see other things.. like multiple stations in a sector, and bots which only stay in particular areas within sectors, and the like. All of which will hopefully lead to more interesting use of our available "space", and a more vibrant and lifelike universe.

Watch for more significant changes in the next release. A number of things are in the pipe, but weren't ready by tonight. Development on Kourier is also moving along well, hopefully that will be debuting in the near future.
Another not-entirely-huge release with some cool new features. Repairing your ship and reloading ammo is now possible on cap ships, which is an important step towards the longer-term (but not too long) goal of actually doing something interesting with the capships, and creating cool new nation-war oriented gameplay. We imagine this feature will have some impact on Border Skirmish, which will also likely be evolved and improved in the near future. Work continues on the Kourier system (Deliverator replacement), which is very nearly approaching a "testable" state. Once it is in testing, we'll thrash things out on our test server until things appear to be pretty solid, and then drop it into production. If things explode, we'll backpedal to our current situation until we can resolve any problems.

Other work also continues on faction standings, friendly fire, physical reworking of sectors and systems, improving AI responses and navigability (better capship behaviour, etc etc), totally new NPC inventory management (much better for Kourier/Deliverator work, missions, etc). Some of this stuff doesn't sound terribly exciting, but it's basically like "make capships smarter and less server intensive, so we can actually do more with them" and other similar cases. "Doing more with them" being everything from player ownership to major battles and station conquest and so on. The usual 984932 dependencies between us and The Next Really Cool Gameplay.


- ships can be repaired when docked to capships
- ammo can be purchased in capships
- fixed background component rendering order
- fixed rare crash on mac
A few minor fixes to bugs that cropped up in the last couple of versions:

- fixed lua error when group members changed sector
- fixed lua bug when using certain buttons in 'k' menu
- fixed duel bugs
- fixed other misc lua errors
Another not-major update, minor changes, improvements and a few requested features (precaching option). Hopefully next week will be more interesting, if everything shakes out well. Kourier is making good progress, so we hope to have something to test there before long. Additionally, there's some mission/sector redux work happening in the near term. Yes, the faction/friendly-fire thing is also coming, but it's become a little more complicated lately.. it's such a widely-impacting change that I want to make damned sure we do it right.

Also in this version, Linux users should be happy to see the updater has been redone with GTK+ 2.x. We had been using 1.2 for the longest time, but it's now being deprecated by a number of distributions, so it was definitely time to upgrade.

On the content front, we'v been working to get some new missions going in the near term. Some of our PCC people have turned out some great missions, they just need a little tweaking before they're ready for prime time.

Finally, there's been some website updates, and you can expect more along those lines, as well as a new full-install version of the game (latest update) in the near future.

Ray's changelog of amusing wording:

- added Preload All Resources Graphics option. Initial load times are much longer and more ram is used with this option enabled.
- fixed ice bumpmap problem where it disappears sometimes
- fixed large ice materials so they have bumpmaps
- hud group display shows where group members are if they aren't in your sector
- added 'Join Group' and 'Leave Group' buttons in target select menu where appropriate
- fixed some lua bugs
- added Heavy Storm Radar Extender available at Ineubis stations
- groups are auto-created when you invite someone to a group
- fixed buddy list so new buddys show up if you previously didn't have any

Thanks much everyone, please keep us posted on any problems, and continue to give us feedback in Suggestions on what's good and where we can improve.
A relatively minor update, with some new features and a few bugfixes. The new Buddy and Duel functionality in the PDA expands on the previous update, and more features of that type can be expected next week (larger, more significant development is progressing as well). The TPG Raptor should now be available in all TPG stations, with an increased top speed and overall cargo capacity. For those who have worked hard to get the TPG TestPilot accomplishment, have no fear, new vessels will be tested there in the future.


- joysticks with more than 8 axes have their info properly saved
- pressing k will only close pda if charinfo tab is open
- changed crates back to cargo crate from the present object
- added Buddy and Duel buttons in 'k' charinfo menu
- added Buddy tab in Comm tab in PDA
- Raptor now has 8 cargo and a top speed of 220
- removed raptor accomplishment requirement
A quick update to announce a couple of things. First of which:


We're making progress on the hybrid Erlang back-end, and that's going well, but to help things in the immediate future, we're going to be swapping out the core game server this week (which sits in front of the sector server-cluster and routes packets). This upgrade will increase the available ram in the system, which will help Deliverator stability (the Lisp problems we've been having are related to garbage collection of the CL). With some luck, this will greatly improve everything related to Deliverator, but it's difficult to forsee the extent of improvement until we get things running in production.

The upgrade will also make it possible for us to pull other machines out of production, bringing them back for further upgrades and generally paving the way for a total-server-cluster rearchitecture intended to be more elegant and scalable (not that our scalability has really been tested, to date).

In other news, Faction design changes are coming along, and there'll be a post to Suggestions in the near future, requesting user feedback. So please feel free to follow up on that.

Progress is also being made on some new UI functionality, in-line with what debuted in the last release, buttons and things to make commonly needed gameplay functions easier and more intuitive to new players.
This is mostly a minor bugfix patch with some added convenience features. The biggest change is that new buttons are now available in the character-select panel for giving money, inviting to a group, inviting to a guild, chatting and the like. We also want to add dueling, buddy invite and more guild/grouping options, but they weren't ready in time.

Ongoing work is progressing on the new back-end Deliverator rewrite, and on the faction system and friendly fire changes.

Quick changelog:

- fixed fog rendering problems
- moved "Automatic' shader setting for opengl to end of list
- if a turret of a ship is selected, it looks like this: "Turret (owner name)"
- added support for more joystick axes in linux
- added some helper buttons to the 'k' object info menu when a player is targeted
- fixed some lua bugs
(1.7.10 had some minor fixes and implemented a new shader model).

VO 1.7.11 relases the new Storm Effects (using fog) and fixes a few bugs. This is the first-time usage of the first-generation fogging effects. There's still quite a lot of things we can do to make it look more varied and interesting, and a lot that needs to be done to make gameplay *within* fog more interesting (reorganizing sectors, more densely packed fields, various radar and stealth enhacing addons, etc). But anyway, it's a start. The next project on the list is fixing the Faction system, although there may be some in-line work on fog and storms as we move forward (minor improvements, any bugs that crop up, etc). Also, people should not notice any major speed impact from the fog, we've tested it on relatively low-end hardware without significant impact.

Fog effects of some kind will be used more widely than just storm sectors. They should eventually appear in heavy mining regions and mining / refinery stations. The fog level in a sector can vary dynamically, so it's possible to have a sector gradually fog as people (or the Hive) mine it more heavily, etc.

As most are probably aware, our biggest overall priority is the implementation of a new Erlang-based backend, which will take the high-level bot spawning load off of Deliverator (the monolithic Lisp process which is currently unstable). As soon as that's done, we can move forward with more of the high-level behaviour (group missions, nation battles, dynamic trading / economy, expanded Hive, etc). The work is coming along well, we hope to start internal testing of the initial hybrid Erlang/Lisp system next week. In the meantime, certain Deliverator-specific content (the hive and a some of the trading missions) will continue to experience some instability. Thanks for your patience on all of this, I know this unexpected breakage in our usually-solid game has been aggrevating for everyone.. both developers and users. It shouldn't be long before we're back on track to new content.

On a lighter note, Linux and MacOS people should now be able to see certain Pixel Shader 1.x features which were not available previously (2.0 has been available for a long time, but not all functionality is duplicated in both shader versions). So, Linux and Mac people should see environment-mapped bumpmapped ice crystals and the like.

In addition, some shader priorities have been shuffled around on the Mac. Previously, ATI cards always used a 1.4 shader path (using ATI-specific ati_text_fragment_shader instead of the newer universal arb_fragment_program). This was a legacy thing for us, based on what was important some years back, and has now been changed. The result is that Mac users may now find that new shaders are enabled, hopefully making things look better. This is only for Macs with later ATI cards (9500+, X-series). People who have those cards can select between which shader model they desire in the Options/Video, in the event that the newer shaders are slower, or if some other problem crops up. Users with Nvidia cards/chips are unaffected by this, the option may still appear in Video, but it will not do anything useful.

This release also includes a fix for a sporadic and infrequent crash which was probably specific to people in Windows on multiprocessor or multicore machines.

That about wraps it up. Have a great weekend and happy holidays to all. If anyone should turn up any issues, please post to the forums and let us know. Thanks.
(Remember these? How I used to post what we were going to do in the coming week? Well, anyway, here's what's going on at Guild Software):

Work is progressing on the back-end rewrite. As I mentioned previously, Deliverator (the Lisp subsystem that handles some of the high level, large-scale AI behaviours: hive, piracy, galaxy-wide trading, and so on) has been having some stability problems. More specifically, the various Lisp implementations we've been using are having problems. So we're in the midst of a re-write to pull a lot of functionality out of lisp and push it off into a more scalable (and hopefully more stable) erlang-based system. That's moving along well, and our goal is to have it finished this month.. but it's a non-trivial project. So, not much can be promised beyond "doing the best we can". Unfortunately, until that system is stabilized, it holds up a lot of new Deliverator-dependent content. Full hive rollout, the new economy, new nation war stuff, and so on. Most of the advanced content we want to add, which depends on AI, is based around Deliverator.

In-line with that, I'm also personally doing some server juggling work, to try and stabilize the existing Deliverator system for "right now".. until the Erlang replacement is completed. I'm also working on some new-ship type content, missions, and design for fixing the faction system, which will be passed on to Ray when he's done with the new fog.

The fogging stuff (see previous newspost if you aren't aware) is coming along well. Ray's had to do some reworking of how our shaders work, which was long overdue anyway, and he's currently finishing that up. Testing is going to be pretty important on this addition, to make sure it functions across all platforms and different videocards, drivers, and so on. With some luck, the code will all be done this week, and we'll move into testing. No promises about whether fog will appear this week, as it requires some further artistic work (me again) and I'm burning time on other projects (Deliverator not crashing).

So, that's where we are. I can't promise what we may or may not release on Friday. It depends on how far we get, and how much time is available between other projects (like fixing broken Deliverator). Not the most exciting of annoucements, but still a bit of news. We're hard at work, and once we get some of this stupid broken-stuff fixed, we'll be moving along with the new content (the economy, full hive rollout, itani-serco wars, and other stuff we expected to be doing.. *now*).

As always, thanks for your patience and support, please keep the suggestions and input coming. We're still moving forward, although there hasn't been as much to show for it, lately.
A quick update to say what's going on. For one thing, there will not be a major client/server update tonight (although there hopefully will be some new missions). I know that's a bit disappointing to some, but our major projects are all currently incomplete, so nothing's really ready yet. Andy and Michael are working on a distributed replacement for Deliverator (which has, to date, been a single lisp process, and recently rather unstable.. we can't move ahead with the economy and Hive stuff until it's stable again), and Ray is working on the next-generation fogging stuff.

A little about the fogging. We recently dropped radar ranges in storms to relatively short range, and I hinted at the time that there would also be graphical changes to tie in with this. Ray's been working on this project for a little while, and things are moving along well. I've always wanted to have more.. atmospheric environments. I know that it doesn't factually make a lot of sense in space, but there are two areas where I've always wanted to implement it: 1) Mining stations.. xithricite dust left over as a byproduct of large scale mining and refinement, creating a green fog 2) Ion storms, with limited visibility and only slightly longer-range sensor data, playing tag with pirates and NPCs in storms could create an interesting and intense gameplay environment. Not to mention the potentials for more specific addons designed to give sensor advantages when visibility is reduced.

To give an idea of what I mean, here's a current development screenshot:

This is a pretty early shot, we still have a lot of work to do, but it gives some impression of an "atmospheric environment". Don't expect it next week or anything, there's still going to be a lot of tweaking to do on the artistic level once Ray has things fully implemented, and then a lot of testing to make sure the fallbacks all work correctly on everyone's videocards. Fogging of one kind or another will be ubiquitous, from the latest and greatest cards, down to the G3 iBook user. It will also be required (not disable-able), as it will be depended-on as a limiting factor of gameplay. Not a lot of point if people can turn it off and see fine ;). All the fogging will be functionally similar, but expect it to look a bit better on the newer cards. We aren't entirely sure of the performance impact yet.. it should be practically nonexistent for "modern" cards (pixel shader 1.1 or better), but it might be a little slower for older fixed-function pipeline boards. On the other hand, we're able to move the clipping plane back to the visibility limit (yay, VO is becoming Turok! har har), so that will result in a definite speed *increase* for those same cards.. so we'll see how it shakes out in testing.

A side-effect of doing fog is that we're also working on further sensor enhancements, to help navigate in low-visibility conditions. Such as, overlaying a backface culled wireframe of the scene over the top, allowing you to "see" your radar data more directly (in cases where radar range was greater than visible range). This could also have major applications for "dark" sectors, which people have periodically requested.

In other news, I'm working on some new missions, and will hopefully have a couple ready tonight. This would include some mission tie-ins for the recent Hive drops that were added.

As always, please keep the ideas coming on the Suggestions forum, and let us know of any problems you come across. Have a good weekend.

A few minor changes and fixes (back on Weds, actually, sorry for the delayed newspost), and a few additions that will gain importance over the coming days. Capship turrets are now fully protected by the ship's shields. We will no longer see a Teradon stripped of its turrets by destroying a nearby enemy. Reloading ammo for the self-propelled concussion mine is now possible, that was previously absent due to an implementation bug, sorry. Also, a number of new hive ships now have additional drops, which will figure prominently in new higher-level Hive related missions. These include both frequent and relatively rare drops (around 1 in 50 for some of them), up to and including Leviathan items. The drops have no intrinsic value in and of themselves, only as they apply to future missions. Also, stockpiling the items in advance may not always be helpful.. some of the missions may require you to go out and get "new" drops within a specific timeframe. Not all of them will, of course, for some that would be infeasable. The whole drop-system is still in need of some improvement and tweaking, but I'm aiming to make use of what we have and get some cool missions rolling as soon as possible.


- Capship turrets are protected by the capship shields now
- Fixed some Lua errors
- Proximity detector distance entry is onw saved properly on logoff
- Additional drops for some bots
- Fixed reloading for self-propelled concussion missiles

Also, a quick note, a number of other requested (Suggested) fixes and changes are in the works, but were too time consuming for this release. So, as always, keep the input coming. Have fun!
Mostly bugfixes with a few new additions. Shields now only display when actually hit, instead of all the time (they show up when hit by your ship's shots, or when significantly damaged by someone else, and then fade back out over a couple of seconds). I've also reworked the shield numbers a bit. Queens are down to a recharge rate of 6000 hp per second, and their "shield repair time" is reduce to 120 seconds from 1800. So, should no one damage a queen for two minutes, the shields will go back up. The other caps have also been similarly changed, but to a lesser extent, Tridents recharging at 9000/s, and so on. All ships other than the Leviathan have a shield repair time of 5 minutes, the Lev is now set to 15 minutes (from 30) and has no other changes. NPC weapons impact shields properly as well. Now that caps are shaping up to be interesting, useful targets, we're excited about putting them to use in more direct ways. More on that later, here's the current changelog:

- Shield effect changed to be only visible when hit
- Changed shield recharge rates
- Fixed repair gun to actually repair bots instead of
damaging them
- Bots damage one another's shields correctly
- Fixed bugs with group missions (notably Border Patrol)
I've fallen a bit behind with the newsposts lately, so here's a recap of what's happened recently, with a longer explanation at the end:

- Ships no longer get repaired for free when docking to a station or capital ship.
- Ship repair cost is based on whether the ship you're trying to repair can be purchased locally and the cost of the ship at the current station.
- misc lua bug fixes
- storms cannot be disabled through lua commands anymore

- Storm Radar Extender is now available at select stations.
- fixed client bug that showed mission buttons at the wrong time.
- stations list all addons available at the station instead of hiding addons that are unpurchasable
- OrunProcessor is worth 10 credits
- fixed bug with repairing ship as buying ammo for it in ship select menu

- Radar distance in storms is now properly limited
- Ship engine sounds for other ships play the proper sound now
- 'This item is not for you' message for unpurchasable addons has been replaced with a more appropriate message
- 'Locally produced trade good' message no longer appears for addons
- proximity warning settings are saved when they change instead when you log out
- bar notification setting is properly saved now
- all new chars should get the tutorial now
- fixed misc lua errors

- Capital ships, Queens and the Leviathan now have shields

Now for the longer explanation of the bigger changes. Ship Repairs now cost money.. so if you damage your ship in combat (or colliding with another vessel, or whatever), any station you bring it to will charge you money to fix it. The only exception being the EC-89, which is universally "free", and repairs are subisized by your nation's government. For all other ships, the cost of repairs are based on either: the price of your ship at that station if available, OR, the price at the nearest station with an added "duty" for every given wormhole hop. So, if you're repairing a special faction-only ship, far from its manufactured point of origin, it may be quite costly to repair.. more than it cost new. However, if the ship is sold locally, the repair cost should be reasonable, unless the local faction does not like you very much, the general pricing effects of faction standing impact repairs in the same way as purchases.

Storms limit your radar properly to 500m, unless you have a special Storm Radar Extender addon (small port) which is manufactured by a specific UIT corporation. More addons of this sort will be coming in due course. In addition, developments are underway to create actual *visual* limitations in storms, as well as the limitations to radar. The hope is that this will lead to some tense and interesting gameplay, as people seek to find or avoid enemies within a dense fog packed with asteroids.

Capital ships, Queens and the Leviathan have shields. This was done in order to better adapt the larger ships for multi-user "PvE" type battles. The Leviathan was always intended as a large scale opponent, to be faced only by a Guild or other organized group. Shields help us achieve this, as they regenerate automatically at a fixed rate with a ceiling of total shield capacity. Once the shields have been depleted, then the actual hull of the vessel (and turrets) can be directly attacked and damaged. If no damage is made to the ship for a fixed period of time (currently 30 minutes), the shields will effectively be "repaired" and go back up. As an example of shield capacity, the Leviathan recharges at a rate of 15,000hp per second, with a total strength of 250,000hp. Thus, many pilots organized together with heavy weaponry are required in order to deplete the shields faster than the 15k/s recharge rate, and continue to deplete it long enough to exhaust the 250,000hp total capacity. The numbers for shields are in the midst of being tweaked, as well as the functionality of the graphical "shield effect". The Queens are currently due to be made a little easier to destroy, and the graphical shield effect should soon only be visible when shots impact on the shields, rather than all the time (how it is currently, which obscures a lot of the ship graphics). There's a bug with NPCs and shield interaction, right now, but that will be fixed in an upcoming release this week.

We've also added several new missions and mission-trees, most of which have been aimed specifically at newer players. We do have a lot of missions in the works, however, so expect more to come along in the near future. In addition, because the Leviathan now presents a more formidable target, missions tying this PvE target in with high-level missions and acquisition of interesting new items is also planned.

That's it for now, more announcements coming. Stay tuned.
A few changes, a few new additions, a few bugfixes. The biggest change is probably the Storm behaviour. Storms now limit your radar range to 500 meters, and the storm entry/exit points are the same for everyone traversing the sector (although which is entry and which is exit depends on your source and destination). Thus, pirates could await their quarry in storms; and escorting ships should now be a little more relevant, since you'll have the same entry/exit vectors as the vessel(s) you are escorting. A special Small Port addon, which increases the radar range in storms to 1500m, will be made available (probably early next week), but didn't make it into this release. There are other Storm changes also coming, the plans for which will be publicized in the near future.

The baseline Wraiths (MkI, MkII, MkIII) have been replaced on stations with the new TPG Revenant. This follows some discussion over the last couple of months on the Suggestions forum: many requested that the Axia Wraith be left available on its current faction-specific basis, and I've done that. For all other general versions, however, the Wraith has been essentially replaced with the Revenant. Check it out, let me know if there are any problems. It will handle differently from the Wraith, due to mass distribution differences, but at the very least it's a much nicer looking ship.

The Sensor Log tab in the PDA has had its functionality expanded, with several new interfaces requested on the Suggestions forum. There are now displays for: Stations You Have Visited, Enemies Killed and Who Has Killed You. For the moment, the data from these are not stored in any way, the information is only persistent to the current game session (once you exit the game, it clears). We will be making this, and other information, more persistent in the future.

All in all, we hope this is a pretty good (and stable) release, as we push towards our larger 1.8 goals. Please report any problems on the messageboard or via email / bug reporter. Thanks much, and enjoy.


- storms restrict radar to 500 meters
- storm entry/exit points are always the same depending on which direction you're coming from
- Station Visits are recorded in Sensors tab
- Kills and killed-by are recorded in Sensors tab
- Replaced Wraith with Revenant ship
- fixed lua error when docking with capship
- guild creation can last 48 hours now
1.7.1 was released Monday, a patch/bugfix release featuring the following:

- mission abort button should always work in Mission Logs tab
- chat maximize button is now 'x'
- fixed some misc lua errors
- changed positions of some mandatory tutorial menus
- made mandatory tutorial fonts a little smaller at higher resolutions
- Changed CombatDrone back to having a larger firing angle.
- Changed TrainingBlaster and Blaster01 to not have as much inaccuracy.

1.7.2, released tonight, features some new minor features and tweaks, with bigger stuff coming next week:

- guilds now disband after 48 hours if the number of council members goes below the minimum required number of 5 council members
- guild creation doesn't require all 10 founding members to be online at the same time, but the creator still needs to be online to invite players and the player needs to be online when they are invited
- update the interface when a guild tag update comes in
- clear guild tag of whoever leaves a guild
- update guild tab when player is removed from a guild
- clear out name in character delete verifier dialog when it opens
Welcome to Vendetta 1.7, the production use of the new User Interface layout and features. For those who were already testing the new UI, the biggest thing added in this version over the previous versions is the new tutorial and training system. For users with brand-new accounts, a short mandatory tutorial walks them through the process of purchasing and equipping their ship. Then a series of optional Training missions help introduce them to the game, culminating in a Basic Flight Status mission which gives them a boost in experience and starting money.

Hopefully these features will help give our game a more friendly face to newbies, especially those who are *not* avid gamers and may be playing an online game for the first time. For any existing players who want to try the new tutorials, start a fresh character and then immediately go into Options -> Interface and select the option to "re-take" the tutorial. This will give the brand-new-user experience.

Shortcut keys and other UI tweaks also make this version beneficial. There are also new global hotkeys in the station/PDA for:

Maximizing/Minimizing chat: "z"
Open the Bar Chat: "h"
Mission Interface: "m"
Navigation Interface: "n"

..These should work from anywhere other than a text-entry field (like typing in chat, obviously).


- new station and HUD interfaces are enabled now
- new first-time mandatory tutorial explaining how to purchase a ship
- new tutorial missions
- new players are no longer given a free ship and a tutorial mission. Player are walked through doing it themselves.
- missions are now abortable via 'Abort' button in Mission Log
- new characters are now selected when they are created
- fixed Reload All Ammo button
- homestation is displayed in character tab under the character's credits
- updated hotkeys for new station interface, hotkey shows up brighter in addition to it being underlined
- mouseover text for some station buttons
- when a mission finishes, it is selected in the mission log tab so players can see what it said when it ended.
- removed 'activatechattab' command
- removed ability to switch chat modes in HUD (!/@ keys)
- fixed article before station factions when they are vowels
- Logitech lcd keyboard level values weren't showing the new relative ranges
- storms no longer appear in capitol/newbie systems
- fixed stasis pod icon for newly dropped items in spy mission
- locally produced commodities are now labeled as such

Please report any bugs or problems on the forum or via the bug reporter. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
We've been really productive, and the next update should be a big one (we hoped it would be tonight, but, so such luck). The mission interface has been changed around a bit, and we have an all-new tutorial system which should be completed by next week. I have the first mission done of what's now a tutorial "mission tree", along with an short initial client-side tutorial that will hopefully answer some of the basic newbie questions and make the initial game experience a little more friendly.

The mission editor framework is going great. Andy and Ray have added a new markup system for creating buttons and things, and I'm getting a lot of use out of the new features. We hope to expose the editor to the userbase in the near future, and 95% of that framework is done too. So, things are coming along.

Michael is doing a lot with his deliverator missions and the hive. He and Mark and Wayne, our programming interns, have created a fantastic administrative visualization tool which will be a huge help when we roll out the hive in production. This way we can see how it's expanding and how things are working on a high level, and tweak settings accordingly. Visualization will also be a big part of implementing the new economy and so on.. we need to have the tools to make sure we can tell what's wrong if things go awry (especially important with a fully dynamic economy).

So anyway, just a quick recap to say what's going on. Look for a big update next week. Have a good weekend, all.
Bugfix and UI tweak release. We *are* working on bigger stuff, but there's a lot going on right now, and we really need to get the new UI solid and in production before we can move on and focus all of our efforts in more exciting directions. The production Hive is still coming, and that's going to make for yet more changes. Andy's also made great progress on that long-awaited mission editor project, so we should be shedding light on that shortly. In the meantime, some more tweaks and a few bugfixes:

- Corvus stations don't have license restrictions for equiping weapons
- right-justify ammo prices in Welcome menu
- added 'c' to end of credit string in secondary info region
- new equipment sell menu uses tree control to see and sell local items.
- moved tabs around
- merged ship status and select tabs in new interface
- mission timer is in location region for PDA and station menus
- purchase preset button is greyed out if there is nothing defined for that preset
- moved some buttons around in Purchase Ship menu
- "You cannot afford this item." is displayed in info of item if you cannot afford it
- mouse wheel up defaults to "Select Next In Front"
- fixed some lua errors
- removed mouse-over sounds from edit boxes
Bugfix and UI tweak release. Mostly some minor changes to the "optional" station interface and the "optional" heads up display. More and larger changes are in the works, as well as some new interfaces. So if the new HUD still has some issues, don't sweat it too much (although feel free to post to the release thread on the forums). I haven't personally seen most of these changes yet, so I hope they're all good (bigger responsibilities at home, for the moment).

Work is also progressing on the Hive and the new economy, which are somewhat interrelated. We've also been spending time trying to track down some really irritating intermittent bugs on our back-end, which make it more difficult to make changes to the universe reliably. Bugs always slow things down, and these are especially annoying.. we've been trying to squash them for months. But, now we're expending more effort, since they intersect unpleasantly with a lot of the new features we're trying to implement. Yay debugging.


- fixed bug with not being able to chat while jumping/warping
- fixed bug where ending a mission may not update the available mission list
- all ships in a station are visible but not purchasable
- all items show their license requirements everywhere now
- sort unusable (but purchasable) addons to the bottom of the lists
- addon names are red in new station buy menu if they are purchasable but not equipable. they have a grey background if they are not purchasable due to them being too expensive
- new hud options in Options->Interface->HUD Settings (only works for new HUD, not the default HUD)
- ship name doesn't show up in target scan info region anymore
- when cargo floating in space is selected, it displays what it is in the target info region instead of the target scan info region
- changed selected color of text list boxes
- default HUD license watch is now Light Weapons instead of Combat
- station and pda main tabs are a little smaller now
- display fact that there are no active missions if there are no active missions in mission log
- portconfig displays stats of items in ports, etc...
- equipment sell tab contents are broken into types, like the buy tab is
- ship mass is displayed in personal info on right side of pda and station menus
- Ion Blasters dropped by hive bots are now labeled as Hive Ion Blasters
- moved station bar into commerce tab
- don't notify player when someone leaves the bar
- showbarupdatenotification config.ini setting
- new powerbar textures for new hud
- new radio button texture
- changed uv coordinates of new hud powerbar skins
Mostly bugfixes and minor stuff, but check out the new HUD and feel free to post feedback.

- corrected in-game news timestamp
- fixed key-repeat in linux; it affected the new animated zoom-in feature
- new HUD enabled when 'Use New Interface' is selected in Interface Options menu
- client tries to fix-up the completed missions list when client doesn't terminate properly
- some lua bug fixes
We've been testing the Hive for ages, as most are probably aware, within the Sedina system. It expands within that system and competes for minerals and does various other things. However, it has always been our intention to basically replace most of the current "bot" appearances with Hive entities, which would expand and try to take control of the universe on their own.

We are again working towards that goal, with the next step being to create three different hives, each of which will expand from its own system to overtake neighbor systems and threaten humanity, although still to a limited extent compared to our eventual goals. Our current well-known "bot" models are also due for an update, as Luis has been working on Hive replacement ships. It's our hope to have three unique sets of Hive vessels, each related to its particular territory. So the greyspace hive might look one way, while the hive expanding in Serco space may look different. From a story perspective, this is based on the fact that each hive would absorb technology from its local neighbors, and that, along with the different types and quantities of resources available in its home location of space, would impact the types of technology that the hive would evolve.

Here's a few development images of new Hive vessels on which Luis has been diligently working:

A new Collector

A new Observer

A new Transport
Relatively minor and bugfix changes. Work with the UI and bots are ongoing. Andy has built the underpinnings to a new system to replace our database and generally make dynamic data easier to track and fully load-balanced. Michael has done a lot of work on his pirate bots, along with some new related missions, and more Hive stuff is expected from him shortly. Luis is also working on some new Hive models, which should be cool. Ray and I hope to have a new HUD, along with (hopefully) some other new interfaces in the near future, perhaps as early as next week. Once the new UI is fully "production" and in place, we'll be focusing on more significant gameplay changes.. beginning with a rescaling of the lower levels and progressing to the new economy and "fixed" faction system.


- fixed luaerror when receiving updated medal info
- fixed spelling in the text for new commodities
- station's desired items are listed in Welcome screen instead of a news article
- news headlines are auto-requested upon entering a sector instead of them heving to be manually requested
- for skinning purposes, the HUD's leadoff reticle is made of two textures instead of one now: hud_target.png and hud_target_over.png
- fixed a performance issue when missions are updated
- zoom-in changed to animated zoom
- missionchat is changed to a function instead of an alias. this will cause an error message to be generated once.
- non-mission mission msgs are no longer flagged as mission msgs. This stops advancement messages from triggering the mission tab
- news article dates are in-game dates now: 4434
Further bugfixes, with an additional change to bring all addons (including weapons and the like) into use as trade items. All items can now be carried as cargo and bought/sold as trade items. This will be expanded upon as the economy is redone and the production of items becomes more directly tied to the resources acquired in a given area. Additionally, Michael has been making changes to his pirate bots, so please give him feedback there. Luis has new Hive models in the works, which will hopefully be used with the expansion of the hive into a full production entity (three hives in the universe, each with unique models). I'm still working on UI related reduxes, as is Ray, but I've been a bit delayed by my other (life) responsibilities.

Andy is making progress on the Mission Editor. I know I've posted that about 50 times, but we really are hoping to make the editor available to the userbase in the immediate future. Really. Honest. When that becomes available, an application process will be announced.


- fixed a lua error when player receives a license level increase
- fixed problem with pressing OK in Change Video Driver dialog and driver wasn't changed
- changed 'Civilian textiles' to 'Civilian Textiles'
- license levels are only checked when equiping addons
- license levels are not checked when purchasing addons (but accomplishments, etc... still are)
- license levels are always displayed
- addons can be put into ship cargo area
- more trade goods.
Further minor bugfixes and changes, leading up to more significant alterations.


- fixed all references to 'battery' and changed them to 'power cell'
- changed zoom button to 'Zoom to System' in nav menu
- client updates faction/licenses correctly now
- hud weapon progress bar is now more accurate and doesn't reset when the hud is closed and opened
- new station/pda current cargo count is updated when cargo count changes
- %lastprivate% variable for who last msged you, so we can make a /msg %lastprivate% command and a /reply command.
- station prevents someone from connecting an addon if they don't have the required licenses
- tried to make advancement log only update when it is visible
- changed sort function in ship load/unload tab to sort by name first
- changed order of station dialog closing to handle port auto-save properly
- support for animating controls. HUD cargo element uses this
- mining tutorial uses 1) 2) menu so it works in the new station interface
- limited support for hotkeys in pda and newstation
Bugfix and further UI tweak release. We are moving towards our summer "Vendetta 2.0" goal of completely redoing the new-user experience, and greatly rebalancing many disparate factors of gameplay which sorely need attention (faction system, hive, economy, storms, story backgrounds, universe layout and content). We'll be finishing up this whole UI thing first, which includes an all-new tutorial system. Then we'll be restructuring the low levels a little bit, to make the first few levels a little easier to obtain. Simultaneous in all of this is Michael's work on Hive, which we are (finally!) preparing to roll out universe-wide. There will be three different hives, each of which will be able to expand into adjacent systems. The respective Hives will compete with the local stations, nations and corporations for use of the resources (asteroid mining), which will impact the new dynamic economy (and availability of items constructed from said resources).

So, a whole lot going on in the background, even if the releases don't seem to have many fundamental changes. Sorry for the lack of newsposts lately, my presence around work has been a little sporadic (many thanks to everyone who has posted their good wishes for my girlfriend's recovery from the recent accident). Here's the latest changelog:

- pda closes when in mission log tab and player presses m
- fixed help text in weapon group tab to say 1-6 instead of 1-7
- fixed /wait command to not lua error if run with no params
- fixed a couple lua errors if mission text file is corrupt
- help buttons work now
- joystick calibrator for mac should work and not have a white background
- advancement log properly autoscrolls to the bottom unless you scroll it up
- jettison menu allows 1-9 keys to be used to quickly jettison that indexed item
- jettison menu doesn't falsely select items when they are added to the list
- interface options menu has 'Show Tool Tips' setting
- weapon groups are now saved when you leave the tab or change groups
- weapon group key binds are shown in the interface
- fixed guild and advancement tabs so they don't retain info from a previous login.
- changed the word 'jump' to 'wormhole' in trade missions
- pda's character tab will open with k if you don't have a target
- taking a mission will auto-select the mission log tab now
- Load/Unload tab shows ship's cargo used and max cargo above ship's cargo
- jettison button no longer clips text when it goes to 'Jettison Selected'
- print msg to new group member saying that they joined the group.
- fixed problem with heavy behemoths dropping their cargo when docking in escort missions
- new station interface should properly update when your faction standing or license level changes
- changed names of all batteries to powercells
- new station interface has faction text
A lot of bugfixes. Deliverator missions (escort, hive, border skirmish) now feature pre-plotted navigational routes. A bug related to escort missions not ending has been fixed. A more verbose profit/loss display has been added to the Sell menu. Certain faction-specific deliverator missions are now beginning to use their proper faction-specific ship types (Serco use Proms and Vultures, etc), this will be expanded as time goes on. HACs in Border Skirmish will now appear on radar correctly as friend/foe.

A new capital ship has been added: TPG Corp's "Constellation" class Heavy Transport.

With a view of relative scale here:

For the moment the ship is lightly armed, and will only appear with occasional TPG escort missions. Expect to see more as the configuration becomes better tuned. The ship currently has 12 large turrets, and is fully dockable. The docking bay is a little more difficult to locate than on the other cap ships, but this will probably be improved.
Bugfixing release. Andy has done some major work to the network layer, specifically to the MTU Path Discovery code. Some people have been experiencing crashes related to packet fragmentation, due to bugs in the older code, and this is a bit of a rehash to improve stability and performance. Any time we touch the network layer it's a little scary.. because there are so many varied routers and devices out on the internet, you're never exactly sure how things are going to work until you put it into production. But, hopefully things will go smoothly and this will result in an overall performance and stability improvement for everyone. Users who have been unable to connect due to MTU problems should also try re-connecting, their issues may have been fixed by this patch.

Michael has made a lot of fixes to the Hive and the related "Hive Skirmish" missions. Please check out the Hive Skirmish and report any problems to him via the messageboard.

I'm deep in the midst of another UI redux, this one for the purpose of improving our new-user experience and introducing an all-new Tutorial system (if anyone is interested, I'm starting to edit on the design wiki again). Hopefully the new tutorial will make the game much less confusing and frustrating for newbies, and give people a smoother introduction to the game universe. However, this is taking me away from short-term game improvements, so the only graphical changes in this version are some bugfixes to the planets (Sedina D14, which was using the wrong bumpmap, credit to tumblemonster for pointing it out to me) and some changes to the Queen/Teradon/Trident explosions (they now do slightly less damage but much greater Force).

Ray is working with me on the new UI stuff, and this new version includes a bunch of changes to how the interface works.. which no one will notice at all. The changes are important to the implementation of the new tutorial and other UI improvements which should be seeing the light of day within 2 to 2.5 weeks. Once the new user experience is improved, we'll be in a better position to start marketing the game more heavily. Additionally, we'll start focusing on more significant core gameplay changes at that point. I know a lot of users have volunteered to help in the marketing in any way they can, please stay tuned to the messageboard for information on how you can help, over the next couple of weeks.

Luis has several new ships ready to roll, but I haven't had time to integrate and test them. I'll be getting back to that as soon as I can.

The update next week will hopefully be a little more interesting, with some more content changes, ai changes and the like. Until then, please stay tuned, and test the infrastructural changes that will lead up to more apparent alterations to gameplay. As always, if you find any problems, please post to the messageboard.


- Mission bugfixes (Trade Guild, Mining Tutorial, and
Recon/Spy missions particularly)
- Minor graphical fixes (planet bumpmaps, etc).
- Lessened damage and increased force of Queen explosions
- Network bugfixes and performance enhancements
- Fixed various Hive Skirmish bugs
The release includes some graphical changes, client fixes, and a major revision of the Hive.

Graphical changes: Many planets are now bumpmapped. Many, but not all. For instance, Itan is bumpmapped right now, but Serco Prime is not (but hey, they do have lighted cities). I'll finish the planets next week. Most of the common planets in the universe are bumpmapped. Gas giants are not, of course, as that would be dumb. So check out the planets, if you have shaders, they look a lot cooler.

Client fixes: Ray fixed some problems with the "mission notes" area, and also did some changes to the way turrets are named on cap ships. Also several bugfixes.

New Hive: Michael pretty much rewrote the entire hive system from scratch. This includes the Hive itself, all the hive missions, and various other functionality. So please test it out and post any problems. Michael is also testing a new dynamic economy that's plugged into his new Hive code. It doesn't actually impact anything right now, it's just in the background for our own testing purposes. Still, worth mentioning so you know that it's on the horizon.

Very short changelog:

- Some planets use bumpmap shaders if available
- Fix for arrow-key cursor movement in Notes menu
- Players no longer get put into a turret when they dock to a capship under certain circumstances
- Major hive changes
Mostly a minor improvement and bugfix release. This version introduces the prototype Mission Log interface on the PDA (still only accessible via "u" for now), which is mostly passive for the moment. It stores all your character advancement information and mission info to two different regions, and also includes a user-editable "notes" field. There are some known problems.. the "notes" field has some strange behaviour in the edit box (like moving the cursor up and down a line doesn't work quite right). Eventually this'll be one of the primary ways of accessing mission information, but for now it's kind of a passive recorder of events. A lot of stuff will be like this during the transition to new types of interfaces.

I also adjusted the bots, with Andy's assistance. Most of them are now much less strafe-happy, and the basic newbie collectors should be easy enough for newbies. The harder bots are still harder than they used to be, but not quite so annoying. They also should maintain a closer combat distance, as the default has been changed from 150M +/- 40% to 100M +/- 40%.

The Raptor has lost some weight, 100kg of mass, and has had an increase in cargo space. I've also added an AI config for the raptor, so it should be appearing in TPG convoys in the near future.

The EC-89 has had its engine's turbo energy usage changed from 50 to 46, per user suggestion (oddly, this had been attempted.. years ago, but the setting override never worked properly and it had never been double checked to see that it worked. I found it when I made the change). I also increased the baseline battery, off of which the Free Battery and Light Battery are derived, from 35 recharge to 38. So newbies should now find it much less irritating to fly to and fro in their new-and-improved EC-89.

A lot of other stuff was planned for this release, but some of it had too many outstanding bugs, others weren't quite there yet. But, hopefully you'll be seeing some network improvements, Deliverator missions, and new ships next week. For now, let us know if you find any problems.. and have fun :).


- Default proximity distance is now 2000 m
- Proximity distance is set when enter is pressed or when focus leaves the edit box
- Proximity distance and checkbox settings are now saved properly
- PDA mission tab: notes, advancement log, mission log
advancement log isn't saved across logins and mission log and notes are saved client-side
- Raptor weighs slightly less and has more cargo capacity
- Bus turbo energy drain is slightly less now
- Increased recharge rate of Free and Light batteries
This version debuts a number of new bits and pieces. The beginnings of the new "PDA" interface are here, just with the "u" menu for the moment.. the mission interface wasn't finished in time for this release. So check that out, but keep in mind the graphics and design are still in progress.

The game should now be able to run on the Intel Mac Mini, and (probably, but untested) the new non-Pro MacBook. Both of these systems use the Intel GMA950 onboard video chipset. We've found the performance of this chipset to be rather bad, but we have gotten it to work with the game, albeit without shaders or any of the other graphical tweaks. If you have an Intel Mini or new MacBook, please give the game a try and post if there are any problems.

I also tweaked the really-bumpy asteroids a little (mostly an image compression change, although they're a little more detailed now as well), and added illuminated cities to Serco Prime by popular demand ;). (Itan will get them too, didn't have time tonight). Eventually, when the engine is a little improved, I'll revisit all the planets and make them a lot cooler looking. Not a huge priority at the moment, of course.

The biggest and most noticable change about this version, however, is the fact that we have completely redone the universal lighting model. The lighting of the universe has always been a mix of a "primary light source" (usually the nearest star/Sun), a "secondary light source" (nearby planet, second star, whatever), and "Ambient" light. Ambient light is basically what happens if you increase the total illumination of the entire scene, regardless of light/shadow, lighting direction, or anything else. The whole universe just gets "brighter", like you turned up gamma or something. Ambient light is pretty ugly, because it provides no sense of light and shadow, and it also obscures fancy effects like bump and specularity under a big blanket of Bright. Because of this, all fancy shader texture effects, like those just mentioned, were almost invisible in most of grey/UIT space, or probably about half the universe.

As it was before, the amount of ambient would vary inversely with the magnitude of the nearest star. In other words, the brighter the nearest lightsource, the less ambient would be present. But for systems like Sedina (and Bractus and Latos and.. so on), which have a very dim star, almost all the lighting is ambient. This is really.. ugly looking. However, we decided to do it like this a long time ago, to make sure people could see to fly around. Otherwise the darker systems became almost too dark to use.

As of this week, we're now changing that completely. We've minimized the use of ambient throughout the universe (although it's still there, but very slight), and effectively replaced it with the secondary lightsource. So, in systems where there's only one major source of light, a dim secondary lightsource will come from the opposite direction, colored to the background nebulae. If there are more than one major sources of light (nearby stars, a binary system for instance), lightsources within a 25-degree arc will be combined together, and the next-brightest lightsource will be allocated to "secondary". This next-brightest could be the nebulae, or it could reflection from a nearby planet, depending on which is brighter. This isn't the most "realistic", but nothing about our lighting really is, and it's certainly more realistic than globally increasing ambient illumination (which doesn't exist in space, the closest real-world thing to ambient requires atmospheric scattering).

Only the first lightsource is bumpmapped, this is a performance choice, as bumpmapping more than one lightsource can be complex and computationally intensive on the videocard (we may add an option for it down the line). The second lightsource is vertex lighting only.

What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, you'll notice there's more darkness in the universe. I don't mean that sectors themselves are necessarily darker (although some may be), but you'll notice that asteroids and stations and ships aren't "uniformly bright" the way they were with ambient lighting. Instead there are shifts of light and shadow, and generally more interesting and (I think) attractive looking lighting.

Development of the lighting model is not completely finished, we'll need to do some more tweaking and testing here and there, but I hope most people will find this change to be a visual improvement. I certainly think it is. We've spent a great deal of time tweaking it over the last couple of days, to make sure you can see where you're going. People with really dark monitors.. well, there's only so much I can do. But, I'm testing this on a CRT (darker than an LCD) with the default gamma settings, and it looks ok to me. If people think certain areas are too dark (or too bright?) or otherwise need attention, please post to the Suggestions forum.


- new PDA interface, includes new proximity warning system
- more shaders
- fixed glow problem on intel macbook pro
- fixed inventory item pricing bug in station ship cargo menu when worth is same as cost
- char stats are auto-updated when logging in on Logitech G15 keyboards
- added label to joystick config menu to show that you can select different joysticks
- fixed crashing problem on Intel Mac Mini, but it is not optimized
- forcefully disable shaders for SiS760 chipset
- sector lighting changed significantly
- more detailed asteroids

As always, please submit any bugs or crashes, and let us know how the game's working. And most of all, have fun!
We've just put a new version of the Border Skirmish into production. This one is continuous, until it's either won or lost (based on the losses sustained on either side). It's then removed from the mission list for half an hour, and then restarts. There are some status mission messages sent out whenever losses are sustained past a certain percentage, it'll be up to people to decode the messages, since they're mostly things like "We're taking heavy losses, rally together, everyone!"

So be sure to check it out, you can sign up for the mission in Deneb O3 or Geira.. B4? I think. Serco, Itani and UIT. It's a pretty intense battle.

Work on this is ongoing, we plan to expand it a lot more, but still a few things to fix before then. Let us know of any bugs you find.
I've mentioned in a couple of threads on the messageboard, as well as here in the newsposts, that we have some new UI features under development. Unfortunately, it'll be at least a week before any of this shows up in production, but to help sate people's curiosity, I'm posting a few development mockups with explanations of the general direction. Keep in mind, these are not screenshots, the interfaces won't look exactly like this, but they'll look similar.

Ray and I are currently working on the implementation of what I've long referred to in my head as the "PDA system". The concept of a place where a lot of data that's relevant to the user is available.. and is always kept available, regardless of whether the user is docked at a station or not. This area will encompass all the current in-flight interfaces (the "u" users in sector menu, the "k" to see character info menu, the "n" nav menu) plus a lot of the current commandline functionality (groups, guild commands, etc).

The actual accessibility of the menus (like hitting "u") will not change at all, it'll still behave the same way.. hitting "u" will bring up the interface and also banish it. But, you'll optionally be able to also click over to other parts of the interface from within the conceptual "PDA" area. (Calling it a PDA is kind of lame, but it's stuck for now).

When you dock with a station, the "PDA" will still be available, and still in its place as illustrated in the mockups below. The station tabs will simply appear on the same tab area. This way, all info, mission data, user-create notes, or whatever else.. will always be accessible.

To illustrate, here's the Nearby Ships menu, aka "u". It allows you to sort based on name, faction, ship-type or distance, by clicking on the heading of the particular column. In this way, it's my hope that people will be able to easily sort through a large number of ships in a sector (like say, in a major battle) and find the one cap ship they need to go defend.. or whatever else. You'll also notice a "Proximity Warning" option at the bottom, with a distance. If enabled (it's a toggle) this will trigger an audible/visual alarm if a ship crosses that proximity threshold. In the short term, this'll be everyone.. but it's my intention to expand/change the functionality of Radar and such in the near future, so "stealth" type countermeasures will allow this feature to be bypassed by the evil pirate types.

Here's the new Mission Logs panel, which will show a history of dialogue and objectives for missions (current and past.. up to the last 32 or so). Thus, if some NPC during a mission should tell you some interesting tidbit about where to mine a particularly rare kind of ore, you'll be able to look back at your logs to find that dialogue.

For user-created notes, here's the new Mission Notes interface.. which for the moment will be a simple dialogue box in which the user can type text. The text will be saved (not exactly sure where yet, probably client-side) and available at all times.

There's a lot of other functionality to be defined here, for all the various and sundry different interfaces, but this hopefully gets across the basic idea. I intend to flesh out the "PDA" interface, then change the HUD around a bit, then redo the station menus again. For HUD changes, for instance, we'll scroll a small "m" in on the side of the HUD when a mission update occurrs, so the user can check their mission log. Voting will go into the PDA too, so if a lower-threshold is passed for voting to mute a user (say, five people) it'll appear on people's huds and they can hit some key to pop up an administrative interface. The little letter indicating the hotkeys will eventually fade out, and be as unobtrusive as possible, while hopefully still helping newbies figure out what's going on.

An all-new tutorial interface is also part of this reconstruction effort, in fact one of the more important aspects.

Next week we'll hopefully see the first implementations of this, with more appearing as we move forward. If anyone has any comments, they're welcome to post them to the messageboard here.
This is mostly a maintenance release, although it includes some fundamental network changes which should lead to further improved performance in "huge-space-battle" type circumstances (the addition of path MTU discovery to the network protocol). Aside from that, there's also some shader tweaks to the newer ships (raptor, ec98 and teradon), and some texture changes on the teradon. Preliminary support for the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard has been added, allowing some game data to be displayed on the keyboard's LCD screen (this support is currently only available in Windows). The Itani Valkyrie was also reduced in mass by 100kg. Look for more involved changes next week, we're still hard at work on the topics I mentioned in the last post.


- Fixed TPG testpilot mission tree (should be easier to complete)
- More improvements to network code (including path MTU discovery)
- Reduced mass of valks by 100kg
- Shader changes to Raptor/Teradon/EC98
- Texture changes to the Teradon.
- Station now visible behind character select menu
- Fixed bug where missions were unable to set nav routes
- Changed references to EC-88 (mostly 'bus killer' stuff) to EC-89
- Miscellaneous bugfixes
- Added support for Logitech G15 keyboard LCD under Windows
Hey everyone, just a quick Monday post to say what we're doing and what you can expect in the near future.

Ray and I are working on some new interfaces, to replace most of the in-game interfaces (the "u" menu, the nav menu, all menus accessible while in flight), and eventually an update to the HUD and station menus as well. So, FYI, any skins will require some updating, as I've made some changes to the underlying graphics. I'll post shots of the new interfaces sometime this week.

This interface-redux process is basically the second-generation version of the "new interface" which will hopefully lead to a better tutorial system, and bring all of our commandline interfaces (like /group) into this century with the addition of GUIs. The commandline versions will not be removed, but our focus will be on the GUI interfaces for the forseeable future. Hopefully this work will lead to a more "accessible" game, which newbies won't find quite so terrifying and confusing.

Andy's aiming to get path MTU discovery implemented tonight, so that the changes we made to the server can bring even greater efficiency to those who have larger possible MTUs.. while fixing incompatabilities with certain modem users who seemingly have extremely small MTUs. (If you have no idea what this is, see here: ). Hopefully this should add even greater performance in high-load network conditions (read: giant space battles) or sector loading and other scenarios.

Andy is also working on a pretty cool new project to vastly improve our back-end handling of bots and things. Eventually the project is intended to completely replace our relational database, and instead use our cluster to provide a load-balanced, resilient back-end where every small program can "subscribe" to a particular bit of data, and then be notified of changes to that data. This concept would be vastly better for our particular use-case, and would make the implementation of a lot of other areas of the game much easier and more robust. The project has a tremendous amount of potential, but we're just doing a very small-scale version of it to begin with, which will only affect bots and reside in memory on the cluster machines. Once this is implemented (currently shooting for Monday after next), it should help a great deal with the problems we've had with Deliverator's bots and the new Mission Editor.

Michael will be working with Andy periodically on this back-end, as it has a major impact on the innerworkings of Deliverator as well (the Lisp subsystem), but in between times he'll be working with me on improving and expanding the new Border Skirmish mission. We've had a lot of great feedback on the Border Skirmish, and I'm glad it's worked well for people and seems pretty cool so far :). As I've posted to the messageboard, I want to really expand on the whole idea of border wars and the serco/itani conflict. I also want to expand on the idea of gigantic cap ship battles with tons of neat stuff going on.

Luis is also working hard on a bunch of new ships for us. Another small cap will probably be appearing next, although he has several more in process. We hope you all like the new "bus" (the EC-89). Yes, I *do* intend to make the EC-88 available via a special mission accomplishment, and it is still in the game. We also do intend to update all the other ships to be relatively on-par with Luis's new content.

And that about wraps it up. I imagine we'll be doing another release on Friday, with as much of the above as we can include. I'll also try and get an improved version of the TPG test-pilot tree in there, sorry for the existing brokenness. You should be seeing most of this within two weeks or so, and then we can move on with more dramatic gameplay changes (like the economy! faction system! crafting! woo!@#!).

This version adds a new ship, the EC-89 (which replaces the venerable EC-88), and make some other changes and improvements to the game.

We have made a small but critical change to the core server's handling of packets. This should result in a dramatic performance improvement for all users under heavy network traffic conditions (ie, when a lot of stuff is going on). The intent is to make capital ship battles more of a reality, and we've taken several important steps towards that with this change, and with the alterations to the TPG Teradon. Tonight should also see the debut of a new border skirmish mission between the Itani and the Serco in Deneb B12. This skirmish involves several Teradons on each side and can be pretty.. visually intense. It's a recent development, so we aren't sure how well the mission works yet, and there are a few problems we're still trying to improve (the mission currently uses a time limit to determine winner/loser, which we're changing). There are no major rewards for the mission at this time, as it's still in need of a lot of testing.. but eventually missions like this will help us move towards more complex gameplay. There's been a lot of talk of replacing CtC or BP, but our intent is really to supercede those dated gameplay mechanics with a whole new variety of interrelated missions.

Cap ships play a big part in this, and we all want user-controllable cap ships as well, so it's in our best interest to make capital scale battles as effective (and cool) as possible.

You may notice that the teradons have a truly new weapon, a large, slow-moving golden sphere. This is intended to be an anti-cap weapon, but it's still in testing as well.

Please check out the new ships and content, try the new missions (offered in Deneb and Geira I believe, for the respective sides) and post any bugs to the messageboard. Most of all, have fun! Thanks much.

General changelog:

- fixed rendering bug that caused some things to not look bumpy
- fixed some lua errors
- fixed /navroute add command so adding the current sector as the first sector won't mess up jumping
- removed some debugging prints on mac version
- Universe Inventory branches are defaulted to closed (except Local Inventory) and displays number of items in the branch (doesn't recurse into ships, though)
- Universe Inventory is sorted by system name
- hud_target HUD element is a full quat instead of a triangle. It fixes some skins
- slight render optimizations for some special effects
- fixed problem with items getting unselected when jettison menu is updated
- fixed a couple client crashes
Bugfix version with a new ship in testing. On the mac side, we are now 100% universal, as the Updater (which used to require execution in Rosetta, although the game was universal) is now universal. We've also made changes and updates to the other platform Updaters. Some of the bigger cap ships may now be a lot more lethal.. it was my intention to use larger collision meshes on their weapons, to match the increased size of the weapon effects. But, that never worked properly, until now. Those who brace the Trident, HAC or Leviathan may now find that much more adept strafing is required, we'll see how it works.

We've also add the second of Luis's ships, in this case the TPG capship known as the Teradon. The ship is not quite polished yet.. it's graphically ok, but still needs more testing on the positioning and layout of the turrets, the engine and mass, etc. So, for now you can see the snazzy new ship, but it may act a little stupid. I'll do more refinement and testing next week. This TPG ship is intended to eventually be a light escort cap, something along the role of a "destroyer" or "light frigate". It has no docking bay and will not be getting one (future caps will, this is just Luis's very first ship for us).

For those who recall, the Teradon is the vessel featured in the "spy shot" many months ago:

In adding the Teradon we noticed a shader bug that only seems to appear in certain sectors. So, you may notice a lack of bumpmapping and specularity, as well as strange lighting, in certain sectors that contain only one lightsource. Since this bug has been present for some time, and no one had yet noticed (that particular shader is only used on the Raptor, Leviathan, and now the Teradon), we've released the new ship anyway, we'll debug and fix the shader issue next week. Most of the time, the ship should look fine.

We've also fixed a number of bugs, and Michael has made further improvements in the Deliverator framework, so hopefully the various escort missions will be more reliable.

As always, please post any problems to the messageboard, or submit bugs with the bug reporter. And most of all, have fun!


- added /j command as a shortened version of /join
- /ignored players are now properly ignored at all times
- mighty mouse scroll wheel now works without requiring usb-overdrive
- exhaust trails of missiles don't go away when the missile is not visible
- fixed misc lua bugs
- changed default accomplishment text in station
- fixed bug with 2d radar selection box not being centered on target when in 3rd person mode
- updater icon for windows is nicer (may need to force windows to reload the icon)
- mac updater and bug reporter are universal
- updater handles errors a little better
- fixed capital ship cannon projectile so its collision mesh is larger
- fixed some crashes in windows with some SiS video chipsets
- fixed some crashes in widows with cards that don't support antialiasing

We're planning a downtime for tomorrow (Tuesday) the 18th, between 9:30am and noon, Central Standard Time. We're going to do some upgrades on our database server and core webserver, so both the game and website will be intermittently down. In theory this upgrade should be pretty quick to do. In practice, maintenance and upgrades usually have some sort of unexpected excitement associated with them, so keep your fingers crossed. This is the first of a series of upgrades and changes to our server-side platform, which should result in greater stability and scalability. Thanks much, we'll have the game back up as quickly as possible.
This version makes some minor tweaks and a few feature additions. The graphics of the Raptor have been slightly adjusted, to get rid of the "lighting-shift" seen in the warp-in cinematic. The ship's abilities have also been adjusted a little, in turbo thrust and port positioning. The Proms have been slightly nerfed (I'm sure there'll be some response on that) and the Hive Posi has been adjusted a bit.

Ray has added basic Guild functionality to that menu tab in the station menu. It should now list the members of your guild who are online. More functionality will be coming for all these areas, as well as another UI redux, which will be focused mostly on the mission interface and tutorials.

Several more new ships are still in the pipe, but having some further tweaking done. The next "big" additions that can be expected will most likely be the new ships, and the second generation UI redux.

As always, please post suggestions on the Suggestions forum, and let us know of any problems you find.

Changelog for 1.5.7:
- Guild tab in station shows guild members online and other guild info.
- Fixed problem with some Intel Macs not rendering the glow effect properly.
- Fixed shader for TPG Raptor.
- Sort ship inventory in Ship Cargo tab by name and then price.
- Fixed crash when program is closed by the OS (Cmd-Q on MacOS, Pressing Close button on Windows, etc...).
- Fixed leadoff icon so it is not rotated 90 degrees.
- Fixed total price message when selling 1 of something of which you have more than one of.
- Fixed lua error when quantity field has something other than a number in it when item is sold/purchased.
- Fixed problem when video options (and other options menus) are closed with the x button.
- Fixed guild vote once and for all.
- Fixed camera position from inside turrets
- Fixed DirectX 9 "Couldn't open window" error

This version introduces a number of small balance changes and some light fixes and feature additions. The npc convoy Behemoth has been changed to a different variant, which is more heavily armored and now has attached turrets. The raptor has been improved a bit, and needs more testing (ports are still wide, for the moment). Several high-end fighters have had their turbo drains reduced. Various and sundry other tweaks to Hive-dropped weapons and the like. AGT mass reduced from 2400kg to 2000kg. Tridents should be appearing more often now, and the Hive should be back in action. The TPG test pilot missions have been debugged and should work better. Tridents are now dockable and wait two minutes at the beginning of escort missions.

Users can now change the UI textures, effectively being able to "skin" the UI how they like. We obviously want much more extensive user-configurability, but this is a start. Ray will post to the messageboard with instructions on how to make skins.

I'll post more about our more-significant upcoming development to news on monday. Current changelog:

- fixed /guild vote command
- different color for loading progressbar
- added profit/loss info to sell confirmation message when selling items in ship cargo menu
- added guild command to keyboard options menu
- added faction info to station welcome menu
- added more info in character select menu
- ctrl-clicking on addons and commodities will append info in a different color to the info list on right side of menu so item stats can be more easily compared
- fixed sizing problem of sector list menu
- turret health is properly updated when controlling a turret
- linux alsa sound drivers no longer block if something else is using alsa and no mixer is installed
- players are able to change the textures of the interface and HUD

Please post any thoughts to the messageboard. Direct any balance suggestions (or complaints) to the Suggestions forum, please.

This update makes the first actual changes to gameplay in several months. We've added a new ship: the TPG "Raptor" prototype vessel. We've enabled a new game feature: destroyed ships, NPC or player, now have a chance of dropping their equipped addons. The station interface will now display potential profit/loss for a given trade. Many balancing tweaks have been made, mostly small, a few larger:

The Behemoth has been reduced in top speed, to 160m/s, turbo trust to 900, and armor to 20,000. Solo traders will now need to weigh getting escorts, or making smaller cargo runs in more defensible ships.

Batteries / Powercells now all have mass. About 100kg, not a lot of variance as of yet. This will eventually become another configurable aspect of ship loadout, as more powercell types become available. Powercells also have a "cargo volume" of 3 cu, meaning that if you want to pick up a dropped powercell, you'll need something bigger than a Vulture.

The Centurion collision and visible hulls have both been slightly increased in scale. I compared them against the Vulture in Max and scaled it by "eyeball", I think it'll work fairly well. We'll all have to test further and give feedback on the messageboard.

Some of the fastest ships (IBG, RevC, Vulturius) have had their top speeds chopped back to around 220m/s.

The Advanced Gatling Turret has had its mass increased by 1000kg.

Various other small tweaks here and there, on the Corvus Marauder (turbo drain changed to 55), higher-end Neuts shoot slightly slower. Other tweaks of various types.

For those of us who have joined recently, please be aware that this is the first gameplay/balance release in awhile, but it will not be the last. If you think some aspect of the game would be better if done differently, please feel free to make a post to the Suggestions forum. Just keep it positive and constructive. We've done many, many balance releases, and inevitably someone doesn't agree with something. But this is a continuous work in progress, and we'll be doing balance releases on a regular basis again (now that we're once again updating the client), so nothing is set in stone. In the end, we're all interested in what's best for the game as a whole.

Other changes:

- show proper cargo space available when addons are in cargo
- profit/loss display for commodities. number in parentheses is unit cost; red if poss, green if profit
- TPG Raptor is available
- fixed loading screen image aspect
- selected char text/button on left is now brighter for selected char
- fixed typo in g_borderwar mission
- addons have volume for when they are in ship cargo
- batteries have mass
- p is a hotkey for the navmap when in station tab
- screenshots are saved as png instead of tga
- enemy status is removed when they or you leave the sector.
- fixed bug with nav routes; setting a route in the station and the HUD not showing which way you have to go.
- station updates itself more often to show items that missions give out

Give it a try, post feedback to the messageboard. We hope you all enjoy this update :).

We have a bunch of stuff in the works for the next few versions. The next release should herald a lot of the changes that I (John) have been wanting to make for some months. A lot of these will be balance changes and tweaking here and there, which will hopefully be well received but are sure to inspire some amount of controversy.

We're also working on a new feature that will allow a destroyed ship to have a certain percent change of dropping the addons they had equipped. So, for PvP, you might be able to pick up that enemy's Neutron IIIs, or their nice fast charge battery. It may also have larger and more interesting ramifications for player vs Hive, etc. Upon picking up any addon, you'll need to carry it back to a station and unload it from your ship before you'll be able to equip it. This change should appear this week (fingers crossed). Further down the line we would also like to add damage to addons salvaged from combat, but that's a bit more involved and won't be appearing immediately.

I am also shooting to get Luis's much-lauded Raptor into production in the next release. We'll see how this goes, but again, keep your fingers crossed. It will be a TPG vessel, as was previously announced. I don't have specifics on its abilities yet, and it may coincide with a TPG-specific mission tree which may culminate in acquisition of the ship.. we'll see. Again, I'm shooting for the next release, but if not, soon after [not Soon(tm)].

Luis is also working on all his ships (other than the Raptor) and is getting up to speed with the whole process of building ships for our game. It's a lot more involved than just the modeling and texturing.. there's shader tweaking, collision hulls, LOD meshes, damage emitter placement, addon port placement, so on and so forth. He's making good progress though. I believe we have nine total ships that are being readied. I don't guarantee how quickly they will arrive.. obviously we want to get things into the game as soon as we can, but it's most important that we do it right. Small ships are more likely to be playable in the near future. Large ships (capital-scale) will obviously not be user-purchasable until we do that related addon.. which is growing closer with the advent of the new client. Large ships will appear in convoys and the like in the near term.

On a note related to capital ships (although it may not seem immediately related).. we're also in the midst of a redux of our economy and underlying related code. The entire universe is defined through a complex and mildly flawed piece of lua scripting, which defines what stuff is in what stations, how much said stuff costs, what minerals and ores are in what asteroids, and so on. Now that Michael is in the process of making our economy actually dynamic (goods will be carried to and fro by npcs, who will take the same trade-missions as offered to users, per our whole "making bots act like users" thing we did a month or two ago).. we have to reappraise the underlying universe and what makes it tick.

This is important to Capital ships, because it is my intention to not strictly make the larger ships available for a price. My goal is to create a process by which a player or guild can apply to build a vessel through a major shipyard (like say, TPG Corp), and then deliver to them a large amount of materials, components and other goods required in the assembly of the ship. Basically, cap ships would be a product of both credits and the use of a partial crafting system. It is our intention to eventually have a fully-fledged crafting system.. which would be based on the same principles as building capital ships, and the economy as a whole.

For a truly dynamic economy to have any kind of point, it has to have an impact on the intended use for goods. Which means, the amount of ore that is delivered to a station that constructs, say, weapons, will vary the price of the weapons produced. Raw goods at locations capable of production, result in refined goods, and so forth. A capital ship, or a neutron III, or a powercell could all be seen as forms of "refined" goods.

Thus, we have to reappraise the basis of the galaxy, and our "tech tree" for the creation of all the products we use within the galaxy. Then we can go about implementing the actual points on that tech tree to allow players to participate (like say, refining ore, or crafting addons, or whatever). All in all, giving a much greater meaning to everything that happens in the galaxy.

No promises on when crafting and all that will be available. It might be sooner than you think, but not immediately. We need to get the economy in working order, fix the faction system, and handle some other parts of the game. I will be getting back to working on the Wiki though, in the near term, so hopefully a clearer road map will be available there.

Thanks again everyone. I hope you're all looking forward to the new version, I know I am :).

A quick patch to fix some outstanding issues. We're gearing up to towards making more widespread changes, but for the moment we're still focusing on getting the client as solid and problem-free as possible.


- fixed /guild vote command
- quotes and semicolons are no longer removed from chat msgs
- HUD should be hidden when charinfo window comes up
- fixed problem with station rendering being reenabled when res/fontsize changes
- disabled wordwrapping with cargo quantity in HUD addon element
- forced player select menu to have 66% height
- fixed /duel rating command
- fixed /verbose when run with no args
- fixed misc lua errors
- precache some textures/objects mostly fx textures and explosion bits
- fixed crash with combo boxes
This marks the production release of the new Vendetta Online client, with a very wide variety of changes. This is our first production patch in months, and a very big patch indeed. So, despite the extensive beta testing, we're still a bit nervous. Please let us know if anything goes wrong or people experience any problems or crashes. If crashes do occur, please use the automated crash reported to send in your debug reports.. this will greatly increase the speed with which we can debug and fix problems.

This is a big step towards Vendetta Online 2.0, our major goal for the next few months. We hope it works well for everyone. Thanks much.

[Edit: Updates to 1.5.1 and 1.5.2 made within the hour, due to discovered Lua bugs. Client seems reasonably stable now.]
We tried to get the release ready for production this week, but a number of factors, including our office losing internet connectivity, conspired to delay things. So, due to a bunch of new code and changes to the client, we're going to do a hopefully-final Beta.. available now. We ask that everyone please test this out over the weekend, and depending on the problems found, we'll aim to roll it into production on Monday.

This version adds a lot of text (help menus, character creation stuff, descriptions) and introduces a lot of small changes. Once again, please try it out and post problems to the messageboard.

One final clarification about the production-izing of the new client.. we are aiming to get this done as quickly as possible, as it is stalling some of our other projects. However, I don't want anyone to be under the mistaken impression that a monday release will suddenly introduce a ton of new ships, or other amazing new features. The first production release(s) will be just like the late Betas. We will, of course, be adding the new ships and other features as we move along, but don't expect too much right out of the gate. The purpose right now is to get the current game stable, so people can keep playing with the updated client.. and THEN begin to focus on new content.

Beta 8 changelog:

- nav menu is a proper tab in the station menu
- help/info text is mostly in place
- fixed problem with navmap not saving completed routes
- fixed problem with survey window breaking menu flow
- fixed problem with trying to create a character with a previously used name messing up menus
- changed selection color of text part of tree control
- changed color of faction standing progress bar
- fixed buyback/buy preset when items are not available but there are some in storage
- fixed bug with rescaling HUD resetting group health HUD element
- scroller width is dependent on font size
- fixed primaryship problem that was causing groupmembers to stop being white on radar
was creating a new charinfo with nodeid before useradd was coming in
- fixed problem with mission timer not getting killed when player logs off.
- fixed problem with sending private msgs to character names that are numbers
- desired speed is set back to current speed when flight-assist is re-enabled.
- changed non-buyable item colors
- toggling different radar blips works
- images/shaders are cached on startup
- changed sector load screen
- changed how multiple identical joysticks are named in windows.
append an index instead of GUID
- fixed problem with double-selecting missions if mission is not taken
- fixed crash if, for some reason, ship is not found when listing ships in ship-select menu
- mouseclick that focuses the edit control now also moves the cursor.
- fixed bloodflash color
- fixed problem with trying to buy an empty preset.
- fixed buyback/preset so it doesn't try to connect non-local addons
- don't accelerate ship when in freelook_mode and flight-assist is on.
- added group keybind to F1 hud help
- fixed aggressor auto-enemy thing

VO Beta 8 is available from:

and the mirror:

PLEASE try it, even if you didn't try the previous betas, and let us know if you have any problems (post to the messageboard). This is hopefully our last beta client, so let's make it count! Thanks!
Just a quick post to update our goings-on. Ray and I are pushing for production-izing the client next week, which'll be a big deal if we can pull it off. He's fixed a lot of bugs, and I'm trying to pull some additional content together (new character text, help text, and so on). Getting this thing into production is our #1 priority. We have a lot of other projects, but most of them hinge on being able to update the client.. our goal for so very, very long.

In other news, Andy is continuing to debug the mission editor. That project is coming along nicely. He's also trying to debug some of the recent server-side problems that have plagued us lately.. still unsure of what's going on there, but we're keeping a close eye on it.

Michael is working on a variety of Deliverator-related functionality. Some may have noticed the Trident cap ships appearing in convoys from time to time. We're going to be doing a lot more with that, after the new client release and the redux of the economy.

So on that note, thanks much for everyone's testing of the various Betas. We're trying to get all the final bugs nailed down, and then put this sucker into production.

One final point, regarding the new Universal Binary support in the beta (which will also appear in production). The game has been successfully tested on the new Intel-base MacBook Pro and iMac, but does not yet appear to work on the recently-released Intel Mini. We have no current workarounds for the Intel Mini, although we are trying to work with Apple to resolve the issue, as it appears to be an OS-related driver problem at this time. We're escalating the bug with Apple, but until we either get some resolution from them, or an Intel Mini of our own for testing, we won't be able to guarantee compatability with that machine. Sorry to any new Mini owners.. we'll make it work as soon as we can.

That's all for now, I'll post more updates in the coming week.
New client beta7 is now live. Please, PLEASE test it out, especially if you've tried the previous betas, and let us know how things work (post problems to the messageboard). We want to wrap this sucker up and roll it into production as soon as possible, so the more people we have testing, the better. You can get the client from:

and the mirror:

Changelog from beta6:

* dblclicking and arrow keys for textlistboxes. don't confuse this with non-text listboxes.
* fixed problem with ship damage indicator becoming a big block after changing interface scaling.
* echo goes to log file
* fixed problem with chat log not being scrolled forward all the way.
* changed default color of purchase confirmation text to white
* clear out chat edits in HUD when they are made visible
* fixed lua error when entering capships in sectors with no stations
* appended joystick device fname to name in Linux to uniquely identify identical joysticks
* Jettison menu keeps selections when quantity changes
* group health HUD indicator no longer shows itself if it is hidden and it gets updated
* external ship views
* fixed problem after chatting in the navmenu and the navmenu losing focus
* /givemoney prints additional confirmation text.
* fixed problem with other members of group not having their health indicator colored properly
* anyone who damages someone else is automatically flagged as an enemy in the radar.
* navmenu can no longer be opened during jump/warp/undocking sequences
* fixed problem with pending charids in sector list menu
* fixed problem with not getting turret damage updates
Here's the latest and greatest version of the new client. Please give it a whirl and let us know of any problems you find. Hopefully we're getting near the end of the show-stopper problems and bugs. There's still a few bits and pieces we want to implement before putting this into production, but there should be some tweaks and improvements in this version that will be well received (like, say, the ability to chat while jumping, warping and undocking).


* fixed HUD not updating credits
* swapped Guild and Group radio buttons in chat area to duplicate old client
* fixed full ship value in sell menu
* added home station set confirmation
* fixed placement problem in HUD damage indicator
* removed some extra carraige returns in some messages
* fixed problem with wrong players/npcs showing up as members of groups
* fixed problem when you change the resolution and the station disappears in the login menu
* station is reloaded in login menu when resolution is changed
* chatlog and navroutes are saved when changing resolution
* color of damage indicators for group members changes based on value
* Credits/Cargo info in station menu scales now
* destination arrows in HUD don't show up in turret HUD anymore
* switching between group health bars, and self damage indicator stays between reopenings of the HUD
* /ping is implemented
* /verbose is implemented
* support pageup/down keys in station chat area
* navpoint text scales now
* color-picker in station purchase menu scales now
* object/charinfo menu is fullscreen now, so at least it's more readable
* /mission abort
* secondary chat area in HUD
* erase first line in console when console output gets too full
* fixed cargo glow orb being left behind
* fixed problem with 'stuck' mouse buttons causing players to shoot when launching from station.
* players can chat while jumping, entering/leaving station, etc...
* higher-res icon for win32 exe
* fixed bug with selling more items that you have and response saying you sold that many
* stations are sorted alphabetically in universe inventory
* opening one of nav/jettison/sectorlist/options menus will auto-close the others
* throttle speed is no longer reset when the HUD is made visible
* leviathan renders properly with shaders again.
* /ignore list is saved per user (as opposed to per character)
* added font scaling settings in Controls->Input (temporary location)
* video/graphics settings will be reset for this version if old config.ini/wgaf.cfg is used.
* joysticks in windows append their GUID to the name so mutiple identical joysticks will be unique
* removed smoke effects from 1st person mode

Client download (use at your own risk, as always):

There have been too many bugs and problems for us to reasonably get the current beta into production this past week, so it's been delayed until we can get some of this stuff worked out. We considered releasing a new beta on Friday, but decided not to, as a bunch of code was still too torn-apart at the time. We will be shooting for a new beta early next week (monday/tuesday) and we'll see how things go after that.

Andy's web-based mission editor is almost feature complete, so I'm excited about playing with that and making some missions. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes, and when I'm more comfortable with making it public. Any missions I make will appear on the Test server, and they may be rather goofy in nature.. as I'm still playing around with the editor and figuring out how to do things (there's currently a mission called The Amazingly Fun Mission, which isn't really all that fun). Once things are working smoothly there, we can start building some interesting mission trees and back-propogating them onto the production server. I'm jazzed about getting some actual storyline progression (@!#@!) in our game. But, I'm a storyline kinda guy.

For the short term, a lot of our focus with content and missions and so forth.. will be on the first few levels of the game. Improving the whole new-user experience, differentiating the nations and giving a more immersive backdrop to what's going on in the universe and why. A lot of this will be new tutorials, or tutorials that don't look like tutorials (low-level missions) and so on. After that, we'll start to build up some higher-level content. I've always wanted the ability to make wacky missions with subplots that trigger availability of other trees and so forth, and now we (theoretically) have that in a fairly easy-to-use editor.

In other news, Michael and I will be appraising the economy next, and putting all his NPCs-behave-like-PCs code to work in the form of stabilizing a truly dynamic economy. This'll mean that people can blockade stations to inflate prices, and the like. I'm sure it'll require a lot of tweaking, but I'm pretty excited there too. Having the economic redux opens the door for a lot of other tweaking and development we've been wanting to do.

Luis is working on a bunch of new stuff for us, including some new universe objects.. basically "floating junk" of various types. Broken freighters, dead capital ships from bygone battles, and the like. Something new that we can spread around the universe and use for more interesting historically-driven regions, use in missions, and so on. We also have a whole bunch of ships from him, of course, which will begin to start appearing once we can production-ize the new client.

Please keep the beta5 client feedback coming, both interface suggestions and bug reports. It's being put to good use. Thanks much.

The new client is live, with a number of new features and fixes. You can peruse the changelog, but some of the big features.. we now have much better font/resolution scalability, for those who like to run at high-res. The fonts themselves still need work, but at least there's some UI scalability now. There's a totally redone "character creation" process, which still lacks some graphics and work. The crash affecting some G4 mac users has been fixed.. albeit by disabling ARB_vertex_buffer_object (which may result in a performance loss on higher-end systems that support it.. but we do still support Apple's platform-specific vertex buffer extension). It's unfortunate that the ARB-standard extension seems to result in a crash. Anyway.. lots of other stuff. Please feel free to test it (at your own risk, as usual) and report any bugs via the messageboard.

ALSO: Please try running the client without copying over your old wgaf.cfg or config.ini. We spent some time redoing the graphics settings auto-config, and I'd like to get some feedback on how well it works. It should be a better balance of "nice looking" and speed now.. especially for 64MB cards, where it previously texture thrashed badly. Auto-config only works on Windows and Mac, as Linux OpenGL just reports AGP memory and makes our video-ram based autoconfig impossible.. so Linux defaults to the 32MB settings (we figure Linux people can handle changing their own settings anyhow). Again, please give it a try and let me know how it works.


* new medal images
* shaders: new ones for asteroids
* new default graphics/video settings
* station sound effects aren't audible in start menu anymore
* fixed "Unknown Entity" problem
* fixed /buddy note command
* clicking on chat output region should set focus to editbox
* buyback question menu properly closes when disconnected from server
* "Press the Activate key to continue on your plotted course." msg is displayed when player reaches 3000m.
* logging off will close the user stats menu
* 'Press F1' msg in HUD can be disabled in Options->Controls->Input tab menu (temporary place)
* turning off autoaim stops targeting reticle from turning yellow
* inventory list should never show engines now
* all unaligned bots are sorted after everyone else instead of before
* chat is unfocused when selecting items in buy/sell menus
* ship sound returns right after cinematic
* edit text cursor is no longer too far to the right
* scalable fonts
* new charcreate menu is functional but not finished
* supports old [colors] settings in config.ini
* disabled ARB_vertex_buffer_object extension for mac version



We put the new Deliverator missions into production on Thursday night. It seems to be working ok for the most part, with only a few faction-standing related hiccups (for the Pirate mission) and one mysterious bot-duping problem that's still being debugged. Please check out the new Escort missions (all over the universe) and various Hive-related missions (in Sedina). Please report any problems via the messageboard.
Hi everyone. Just a quick Monday update to say how we're doing.

Thanks to all the people who are testing the Beta4 client, we're working on clearing up all the bugs. At present, we're shooting to do another beta client this coming friday, which will hopefully be even more bug-free, and then shoot (tentatively) for a production patch updating to the new client on the following week. There may be some successive test releases and last-minute testing next week, but with some luck.. we hope to roll the new client into production within two weeks of today. If it isn't ready by then, then it isn't ready.. (we won't sacrifice client stability for our schedule) but this is the goal we're aiming for.

Production-izing the new client requires fixing all the major issues (lua bugs, crashed, etc) that are still occurring. The user interface and usability improvements will probably be put off until after production release, however. There's a lot of stuff that's being hung up by the lack of Production client updates.. so we're focusing only on the majorly catastrophic show-stopper problems for the moment. We will be revisiting the UI/ease-of-use/convenience type features after the new client is in production. In fact, you'll probably start seeing a lot more significant updates once we hit production, since we'll be able to do protocol changes which allow the implementation of.. the new Guild interface, Nav/mission interfaces and lots of other stuff. In the meantime, please continue helping us test the Beta4 client and reporting bugs via the messageboard. The more thorough our testing process during this phase, the smoother the final release will go. We want this thing to work for everyone.

In related news, we're also looking at a not-insignificant server side update on Wednesday. This will introduce the various new Deliverator-based missions that Michael has been testing on the Test server. But, the release itself is really more significant than that, as it also changes a great deal of other code and introduces a lot of fixes we've made over the last couple of months. Historically, we make server-side updates as soon as there's anything to change.. usually once every week or two. Lately, however, we've gone a couple of months without this (due to various debugging and major new feature implementations), so we're excited to get this all going in Production this week.

We hope the server-side rollout will go smoothly. If it has a few hiccups (which happens), please be aware that we will be actively monitoring and fixing any problems that come up. We will be babysitting this new server code for a least a week, and Michael will be working/debugging primarily on the production server for probably several weeks.. so if things go wrong, we should be in a position to respond quickly.

Andy is also finishing up the new web-based mission editor, which has undergone a major rewrite, but is (according to him) now much cleaner and more extensible than the first iteration we had a month or so ago. I hope to start making missions with the editor this week. Based on my feedback and further development, we'll start to work towards making something available to the userbase.

So anyway, please keep testing and giving us feedback. We're aiming to start doing some major changes in the near-term. The big holdup is just getting this client out the door. So, keep your fingers crossed and let us know if you find any bugs :). Thanks much.

Just a brief news update. We're still bugfixing away on the new client, please keep those reports coming. Hopefully if we get a lot of the bugs fixed earlier this week, we can even add a little functionality, but we'll see how it goes.

Michael's various missions are pretty nifty, but still in need of some testing. We checked them out last week and decided to delay release there a little, while we looked into a few issues. Hopefully we'll push them into production this week.. but no promises on that. A significant server update would have to happen at the same time, which is not a bad thing at all, but it may involve some amount of breakage (as major server updates often do, to one extent or another) which will sap Andy's time from working on the..

..Mission Editor, which is also going well. He has the interface code about 90% done, but there's still functionality that needs to be added. He hopes to have the whole thing functional this week, and then we'll be able to move him on to bigger and brighter tasks.

I'm continuing to work on some graphics here and there, and taking a look at things like.. in-game fonts and such. Various client related tweaking, plus my regular day-to-day (if there is such a thing? My job is somewhat unpredictable). Luis has completed another ship, and is interested in working on some new hive bots, although I'll probably have him focus on a couple of other things first.

That's about it, just a brief heads-up. Look for a new Test client on Friday again. Maybe this one will actually be bug-free? Who knows.. we're getting close!
Here's the new Vendetta Test Client. As always, test it at your own risk. Please report any problems via the messageboard (there'll be a new Beta3 thread). Again, do not expect a lot of "improvement" type changes, we've mostly focused on fixing bugs and crashes. This does have some minor graphical changes to the black asteroids.

New ports:

MacOS X PPC/Intel fat binary. If anyone has an Intel mac, please test this and let us know if it runs. The PPC side has been tested down as far as a G3 on OS 10.2.8.

Linux / AMD64. This is the first Beta build of the new client to include a Linux/AMD64 binary.

Other changes:

* chat errors are fixed
* fixed mission timers
* fixed bug with chat text not scrolled all the way down by default
* removed "Error! trying to remove object" msgs
* fixed lua error when mission removes item from your inventory when you enter a station
* fixed mac crash on startup. related to automatic mipmap generation and texture compression used at the same time
* fixed Warthog damage indicator
* guild tags show up in target info area of HUD and Character Info menu
* fixed /duel command
* fixed /group command
* fixed /vote mute "charname" command
* fixed bar chat so chat is colored by nation of player who wrote the chat
* fixed crashes with scanner effect
* pressing 'Max' when purchasing addons now calculates how many empty slots of that type are available and defaults to 1 if none are available
* fixed lua error in GetPlayerDistance when leaving/entering a sector
* fixed newlines at the end of some messages
* made background behind news and mission text a little darker
* fixed problem with seeing extra red warning lights floating in space and cargo orbs not disappearing
* ship masses are rounded when displayed in HUD
* added purchase and sell confirmation text in the chat window
* speed indicator text is no longer clipped when speed is > 199 m/s
* fixed error when purchasing preset that doesn't exist in local station
* 3d selection box around objects renders properly
* Hide Station in Menu setting is now used
* The Valkyrie leadoff indicator is fixed. If not fixed, re-setup weapon group 1.
* "%player% is having issues." msg has returned.
* cargo should display 'cargo' in target info
* Jettison All button has 'a' as its hotkey
* lua error window is never too small now
* pressing Esc in station/nav chat unfocuses the chat editbox


Download the new test client:



Just a quick update on the goings-on here at Guild. You may see a fair amount of stuff appearing over the next two weeks, if all goes as planned..

On the New Test Client front, Ray is diligently bugfixing, and we're once again aiming to get a new test client out by this coming Friday. We're still just trying to get the bugs fixed and the client stable, we'll look into new features and other requests once we've accomplished that. Our major goal is to get the client fully into production (which requires it to be stable and functional), and *then* we can really start adding stuff.

Michael's new mission work is 99.9% completed, with a few remaining tweaks and implementation changes. He's hoping to debut it this week. We'll see how that goes. This will include the new Hive Hunt mission, the Trader-Escort mission, the Pirate The Traders mission (related to the previous) and perhaps a couple of Mining related missions. These debut a whole lot of new Deliverator code that Michael's written over the last 2-3 months, and also includes an updated back-end for the convoys in general. They've been actively tested on the test server, but we still expect to have some bugs crop up after release. Michael will be working on the production server once the new code is out there, and we'll fix up any bugs as quickly as possible.

Andy had to take a break from his mission-editing web interface to help us out with the test-client release and some related bugfixes, and he's now back to cranking out the new mission editing system. The current version already *works*, it just only includes a pretty simple set of mission cases.. he's expanding that to include a lot more options. I can't guarantee when this will be available to the general public, I want to play with it and test it first.. but we'll open it up as soon as we can. We are going to have a whole application process for access to the editor, so watch for news of that here.

In between helping here and there and everywhere, I'm still sprucing up graphics (currently tinkering with asteroids) and working with Luis to get him some new content-creation tools (our own internal viewers and tools) and have him ready his new ships for use in our game. As I improve our older, existing graphical content, I'll be rolling it into the periodic Test Client RLBs, so anyone can see the progress there (so far, good feedback on the newer Vulture and Warthog materials).

That's about it for now. Watch for a new Test Client this Friday, and hopefully we'll be seeing some in-game server-side content appearing over the coming week. Take care all, please keep the bug reports coming. Thanks much!

This marks the debut of the new client, as a optional Testing-only download. Any of our users are more than welcome to grab this release and help us with the testing process. However, first be aware of a couple of things:

This is a completely optional download, a buggy beta-test install of a new client. You do not need it to play the game. We are not responsible for how it behaves on your machine. We would love to hear feedback on what goes wrong from those who are adventurous enough to try it, but you should install it only at your own risk.

This is a test-only client, it has plenty of problems (some known) and it should be kept in a separate temp directory. We plan on periodically releasing new clients to fix bugs and make improvements, until the new client is ready for production. All test copies should be kept separate, so that in the event of a major problem in the test client, you will continue to be able to play the game with the production client on a day-to-day basis.

3) This Test client will not be available as a patch
While it's in testing, you will need to download a completely separate archive of the client, which contains all three versions of the game (Windows, Mac and Linux/IA32). You will need to be savvy enough to use a zipfile and keep the directory structure intact (dragging the vendetta_beta1 directory to your desktop should suffice). You will then be running the client directly, no Updater will be included with these Test releases. After testing is completed (hopefully a few weeks) and the client is deemed "production worthy", we will create a patch and push it out to everyone.

If, after reading and understanding the above, you still want to try the Test client, then read on..

Release Notes:

This client, as previously stated, as a number of issues:

New Characters
We do not recommend creating a new character with the client, as the Character Create screens don't quite work right. The next version will have the new Character Create interfaces.

General UI bugs
This can be anything from menus appearing in the wrong order (under one another instead of on top, and other related Lua bugs. Please report any Lua bugs or other problems of this nature via the messageboard.

Shader Problems in Linux/OpenGL
There seem to be some shader fallback issues that impact OpenGL on Linux. In this case, the Vulture and Warthog both appear without textures. We're aware of the issue and will try to correct it in the next Test release.

How And When To Give Us Feedback
We do want feedback, preferably via the messageboard, and we will create a specific thread for related posts (in General). However, because this is still a bit of a Raw test, please limit your feedback to obvious bugs, crashes, errors and other major issues. There are still a lot of missing standard features (/commands and the like).. we know they're missing. We will create a separate design-related thread in the Suggestions forum when we're ready to handle design-level input on the new UI. Initially, we'll just be focusing on major bugs, and it won't be helpful for us to be overwhelmed with higher-level gameplay related issues.

Here's the zip:

Just drag and drop the directory inside the zip file to your desktop or other suitable location. Go into the directory and run the vendetta binary within (there are three.. one for Linux, Mac and Windows.. which to use should be obvious). The zip file encompasses everything you'll need. You will not need any files from your production version, and it's recommended you not copy any over (ie, don't try using your wgaf.cfg at present).
We've pretty well regrouped after our various holiday festivities, family visits and trips, and are back to improving the game (some of us never left).

Anyway, the new client is coming along well. I did a lot of testing over the weekend, and Ray is currently in the process of fixing the bugs I turned up, and adding a few features that I think are necessary. We're shooting, tentatively, for releasing the client into open testing within a week (so say, roughly next Monday). This isn't at all unrealistic.. the client works ok right now, it just has a number of problems and usability annoyances. It will still be somewhat "rough" when it goes into testing.. some menus will still be incomplete (probably the new character creation and the various options menus), but it should be workable.

People are going to need to adjust to some changes with the new client. Existing scripts and binds may need to be rewritten, for one thing. The use of the console is changing, we won't be chatting from there anymore. We are also getting rid of the DirectX 8.1 GKGL driver, and standardizing on the DirectX 9 driver. I know some people have experienced issues under DX9, so we'll need those people to give us feedback from testing with the new client. We hope to have the vast majority of problems sorted out before the client goes into production.

The new client also has a bunch of cool new features.. and will have a lot more once we can change the protocol version again (something we've avoided to date, so we can do concurrent testing with both old and new clients simultaneously). For one thing, the initial public Test should support the ability to set four different preset ship configs, to speed up the ability to buy/equip preferred ships with addons. This feature should be accessible both at the station-menu level as well as at the "buyback popup" that appears after death. This feature, along with a number of others that will come after official release (auto-calculated profit for cargo and so on) should prove to make the game a bit cooler.

Michael is cleaning up the last few bugs from his Escort, Hive Hunt and Pirate missions. It's important to emphasize that these missions don't just represent individual developments.. he's basically polishing up a whole new mechanism for us to make mission-based content. Once he gets these cases working, we should be easily (and very quickly) able to make a lot of other use-cases (like say, a CtC or border-conflict type mission). I know we've promised this in the past.. with things like the much-maligned "mission editor" project of last spring/summer, but Michael's work is bearing immediate fruit, and you can even help test it on the Test server (prepend your username with test: while logging in).

Andy is helping Michael debug his missions, and also working on the new web-based framework for creating missions (a completely different project from Michael's, but related). As mentioned previously, this will let anyone.. developers or users, create missions and try them on the Test server. The idea being that lots of new missions will be created, and we'll propogate the best ones back into the production game.
In between his other short-term tasks, Andy will also be taking a look at our damage model (which is partially flawed, and results in inaccurate damage under certain conditions.. the well-known "wing bug" for instance). We don't have the time for a major low-level redux right now, but if an easy solution presents itself, we'll post about it here.

Sorry to everyone who's been experiencing server chat-lag recently. We suspect that the problem was related to one of the server processes building up an excessive amount of junk data, which was saved for some archaic purpose that's no longer needed. We cleared that out and seem to have solved the problem. We'll be addressing the issue on a more permanent basis.

So, in closing.. test of the new client in a week! Also, please continue to test the escort, pirate and hive-hunt missions on the Test server.
Happy Holidays!

The new ship development has been ongoing, over the last few months, with several new types appearing and currently in development. I thought I would share a couple of things about the updated ship-making process.

Historically, most normal mapped ships were modeled to their "production" poly level, and then had their normal mapped detail added in Photoshop, using an Nvidia plugin to create 3D detail from 2D heightmaps. This works fairly well for a lot of cases, but not for everything. The three original "special" ships (Prometheus, Valkyrie and Marauder) were all made with this method, as are the older ships that I'm currently bringing more "up to date" with added normal and specularity maps.

Luis's new ships, on the other hand, are being made using a different method. He is creating two models for each ship, the first at the "production" polygon count (say, around 1500 for a smaller ship, or upwards of 5000 for a bigger ship). The second is a detailed high-poly version (upwards of 200,000 polygons) which has its greater detail then "cooked out" via render-to-texture onto the lower poly version in the form of a normal map. The more complex lighting surface normals of the high detail version are then preserved on the low detail version, with the lower poly count. This method has been widely used in a number of modern FPS games, Doom III and HalfLife 2 amongst others, and is generally a great way to add complex model detail onto a game-usable version of the model. It does have some caveats, some things don't always cook out quite right, and some aspects require tweaking, but overall it's a good way to get a lot of base detail on the normal map. This is then further tweaked at a 2D level in Photoshop, and the other materials are built to accentuate the features of the normal map, creating a more realistic looking spaceship.

Here you can see a couple of examples of ships that Luis been building, using this process:

In each of those examples, the high-detail models are over 180,000 polygons. The low-detail models are not much different from what we regularly see in-game. In each case, the normal map can be used to make an angular cylinder appear smooth, or add lots of crenellation and surface detail (vents, gratings, wires, pipes, plates) to what would otherwise be a completely flat surface on the low-poly ship.

This is just one of the ways that we're working to get the most out of our 3D engine with the new models. The engine has always been much more capable than we've made use of, historically, due to a lack of artists and time, and we're hoping to change that.

So anyway, lots of working going on in that department. We have seven major ships in various stages of development, and more that have already been concepted. So hopefully, we'll have a major influx of new art content over the next month or two, as we complete these ships and make them ready for the game. I've already posted about a couple of them, the Raptor and the like (the Raptor is currently the closest to completion, although it still requires some work as well before it'll be ready to use in-game).

In other areas, work is still going well. Andy's coming along really well with the new mission-editing website interface. A few people have tested it, and it does successfully export missions into the test server. We're also creating a whole application process and a new.. user group for those who would like to use the mission editor. That should be available next week (we'll see).

The UI has almost all the fundamental features, but still needs some more work. It lacks some "ease of use" bits that we've come to expect, like keyboard hotkeys for menu navigation and various other things. That, and some parts of the menus still need reworking (like the login, character selection and creation) and a few bugs still exist. I'm hopeful that we'll start to put it into independent testing (not creating an update, but putting the client online optionally for those who wish to download and try it) within a couple of weeks if all goes well. We won't release it into testing until what we have is pretty solid and does what we want it to.. not a lot of point in testing something when you already know what's wrong with it. When it's fairly workable as a full game client replacement and ready for stability testing, we'll make it available for download.

Michael's work on the Hive, Escort and Pirate missions seems to be working ok. We'll release that into production as soon as it's feature-complete and he's confident that it's stable.

This week is a bit less organized for us, because a number of people are off visiting family for a few days between Christmas and New Year. But, in between (and during) these events, most of us will be working, trying to get our respective tasks wrapped up so we can release things as soon as possible.

And that about wraps things up. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday. We would have liked to have made a Christmas client release, or even a New Years release, but neither are going to happen (and not for any lack of productivity). A few more weeks though, and I think it'll be a bit more realistic.

First up, the continuing Escort Mission and other Deliverator-based developments. As anyone following the messageboard has read, the escort missions are now working fairly well on the Test server. All the bugs should be cleared up by this evening, hopefully.
The Pirate mission is coming along well and should also be working well by this evening (Michael hopes), and then there's some final work on the Hive. So, at present, we're aiming for a tentative goal of making the new Escort/Pirate/Hive stuff "production" (ie, implemented in the Release server) by later this week. That's entirely dependent on what other bugs may crop up and how quickly any issues get solved, but it's our tentative goal.
(Note, anyone who wants to participate in testing on the Test server need only prepend their game login name with "test:".. ie "test:incarnate" for me, sans quotes. The Test server uses an older snapshot of the user database, so it isn't always up to date with the latest subscribers, but we're going to synchronize it tonight).

Secondly, we're happy to report that a whole new framework for easy development of simple missions is in the works (has been for a few weeks) and is producing actual working missions on the Test server. People will no doubt remember the long process of creating the "Mission Editor", which eventually did produce something useful for making missions, but didn't quite work to our expectations and is a bit difficult to use. Work on the true Mission Editor will continue moving along (although right now Ray is primarily focused on the new UI), but as a separate-but-related project we're making a new web-based mission development system.

For a brief, general description, it's a website where you can select different objective types, set parameters, and fill in text. Like, for instance, the only objective we have right now is "kill N bots". So, you select that, specify how many bots and relevant text (in-game mission description), and submit it, and it goes "live" to the test server. This is a simplified description, there's a lot of other parameters for things like faction standing of the mission, what kind of bot you want to attack, so on and so forth. But basically, using this it's possible to create simple missions where you kill bots.

Objectives can also be chained together to create longer missions (Go here and kill X Bad Bots, then go here and kill Y Mean Bots) and so on. Accomplishments can be set based on met objectives, and used to trigger new mission availability, which then permits development of long trees of related missions (like say, an Epic type arc).

The types of missions that can be created within this system will always be somewhat limited by the types of objectives we create (obviously, we want more than "kill N bots", that's just all we have right now), but given the way objectives can be set up and longer missions could be chained.. a whole lot of different storyline "content" could actually be created using a relatively fixed set of mission objectives.

It is our intention to both use this internally for simple missions, as well as opening it up to our userbase on a limited basis (wider access than just Guides, but only paying users who have proven their involvement in the game and general trustworthiness.. there'll be some sort of application and approval process). As people go about creating missions, we hope to get feedback and use that input to build more objective types and add more functionality. We expect the development of the system to be evolutionary.. we'll start out simple, but get progressively more full-featured through the addition of options.

Really complex missions will still either need to be custom made by us, or built in a future version of the mission editor. But this new online mission builder will give us (and anyone else) an easy way to throw together simple missions and immediately try them out in the Test universe. Migration of missions from the Test universe to production will be done on a case-by-case basis (we'll have to come up with a submission/approval process for this too, including merits like storyline consistency, quality of writing and the like).

So, for those who have wanted to get more directly involved with the game, we're happy to say that it's coming.. and we're much more confident in this than with the past Mission Editor, which had the same intended goal.

On a final note, the UI development is going well, Luis has a bunch of new ships in the works for us, and I'm still in the process of improving the existing ships (looks, balance, game, and so on).. so this next Client Release (still no ETA) will be a doozy.. both in improvements and download size.

The Escort Mission is nearly completed, but not ready for production use yet. We plan on putting it on the test server tomorrow evening, and anyone is welcome to give it a try at that time. Once it's been proven on the test server, we'll migrate it to the production server.
This evening, while restoring a character for a user who had apparently deleted it by accident, Andy accidentally deleted all the characters in the database. This would be kind of funny, if it wasn't for ALL OF OUR CHARACTERS BEING DELETED (!@#!@#). So, anyway, we've restored from a backup made at 4:00 AM (CST) this morning. Character changes made since then will not be reflected in the database, except for the handful of lucky people who happened to be online when Andy had his snafu, and had their characters preserved through activation on the server.

We sincerely, sincerely apologize for this. It's the first instance of a problem we've ever had like this, and it was a pretty bizarre event that caused it (not entirely Andy's fault.. partially mysqldump apparently acting in a way other than documented). To apologize, we've given all paying users a free week of gameplay.

The new UI will also include features to prevent people from accidentally deleting their own characters (having to type in the character name to confirm deletion), to hopefully mitigate the cause of this giant mess in the future.

At this point (8PM) I don't know the exact status of the escort mission stuff. I will post as soon as I do.

Here are some proper desktop images of the TPG Raptor, one of the new ships that have been created for the game by artist Luis Zardo. These images are made from Max renders of the ship with the highest-resolution (2048x2048) textures, the in-game version will have lower resolution textures (512x512) but remains quite cool looking, especially for those with Shader capable videocards. This vessel should be debuting in the next major client release. Due to the ship's relatively high poly count, we've decided to limit its usage by making it only available to users who have been subscribed for 6 months, or have purchased prepaid 6-month subscriptions. We've thrown together images in a variety of sizes:

Widescreen 1280x720:

Standard Aspect 1280x960:
Standard Aspect 1024x768:
Standard Aspect 800x600:

The work planned to be finished on Monday has pretty much taken until today (Weds) to complete. Much of the "NPCs and PCs treated similarly" code is in place, but there's still work that needs to be done before we can actually start rolling out new features based on this development. A lot of them are fairly simple technical issues, making sure a user taking a mission with NPCs is in the same group (to avoid aggression in case of a collision), or creating a way for NPCs pirates to determine a good intercept sector for a given convoy, and so forth. With luck, however, we hope to have a production-ready Escort mission by early next week (hopefully Monday). The Pirate missions will take a little longer, due to some added development needed for those cases, but they should follow soon enough.

In UI news, things are moving well. I'm actually able to use the new client on a regular basis now, giving Ray feedback on usability and design issues. The station menu is pretty much functional, but is still lacking some controls, and also lacking some graphical-prettyness in some areas. It's cool to see the client usable, though: 95% of the actual functionality is in place, but there's a whole lot of minor stuff that Ray is still implementing, as well as some "new" features that I want him to add. People may run into some issues with existing console scripts and special binds and things, simply because the new client interface doesn't function exactly like the old one, but it'll only mean minor re-scripting. I'm confident that it'll be a major improvement all 'round, and am happy to see the interface shaping up so well.

I've been doing a little administrative work here and there, as has been noted in newsposts on here. Most of my time is still directed towards the interface and other new graphics (like ships), but some server and site upgrades are going to be necessary, and I'm doing that when possible. I have a mailing list server up and running, to actual do regular (monthly) notifications of events and the like, but I'll be holding off on using the list until after the new client is out. I'm also working with Andy on some new mission interface / development stuff, which I'm very excited about but won't discuss in-depth until it bears more fruit.

Luis is still working on some new ships for us (potentially, a replacement for the EC-88, and perhaps a number of variants), I may post some concept art later this week (we'll see :).

That wraps it up for now. I will post again by next Monday, at least, to either announce the new Escort missions, or announce they won't be out on Monday ;). Keep your fingers crossed.
The main vendetta-online webserver will be undergoing maintenance this evening, to upgrade some software for added performance and scalability. These upgrades will take place between 6pm and midnight CST, and will probably not result in noticable downtime.
Michael and Andy are still in the midst of their work, making NPCs and PCs function similarly. Some of it's completed, but the rest is now shooting for a done-date of next week Monday. On the upside, there's some cool work happening on both Escort and Piracy missions. Escort missions of course being the defense of trade convoys, while Piracy missions will group users and NPCs to prey upon those same convoys. In both cases, the mission requirements dynamically change based on the type and size of the spawned convoy, so more valuable items request more escorts/pirates, and so on.

Ray is hard at work on the UI, currently redoing the capital ship turret interface. Not really reworking it as of yet, but just.. making it functional under the new system. Things are coming along pretty well, functionally, but there's still a lot of work left to be done. Here's a screenshot of the general layout:

Keep in mind, this is a *development layout*. It's also of one of the menus that hasn't changed very much (so it's less ugly than the other really-incomplete menus, which I don't want to post screenshots of). The text colors are all funky and there's still a bunch of features missing.. standard buttons and other things that are supposed to go into this interface. We're also going to re-organize the tabs and various other stuff, and the scrollbar graphics aren't quite right, I have to resave those (photoshop alpha issue). Generally, however, this is the basic design we're using for the new station menu. The graphics should be user-replacable, so if people want to make skins that will be pretty easy. Users making whole different interfaces and layouts is also something we want, but it might not be possible in the initial releases.

Also, please keep in mind that the new interface is a work in progress. The first client won't have everything in there, in fact some entire interfaces will be missing (probably the new mission interface and some other things), it'll be an ongoing-refinement project just like the rest of the game. The most important part of this whole new UI redux is not the shiny new graphics and layout, but rather how much easier it will be for us (the developers) to add things and create new functionality. This is critical to some of the new gameplay we want to create.

Thanks much for your support as always. I should be posting some more tidbits about new ships over the coming week(s). For feedback and questions, please post on the message board.
As promised, here is a pre-production screenshot of one of the upcoming capships. This being the TPG vessel that was "leaked" some time ago:

These are max renders that have been composited in photoshop, not raw from the game engine, but they do use the same resolution textures as will appear in the game. I'm still tweaking the specularity and normal maps, so these remain "pre-production", but are probably 98% true to what will be used in-game. The credit and thanks for this art goes to Luis Zardo, whose website I will happily plug as soon as he gets one online.
Sorry, I'm a little late on those screenshot postings. They'll make it next week though, I promise.
As most of you know, the NPC trading convoys are now in production, and seem to be working pretty well. They vary in size, depending on the size of the cargo that needs to be carried (something currently random, but soon to be tied into the economy). They also vary in defensive capabilities, starting with a baseline fighter escort, and increasing in the number/lethality of escorts if the level of "danger" for a route is increased. This number is increased depending on the success rate of the convoys.. should a particular route be pirated more often, future convoys will have more fighter support on that route. And so on and so forth.

We intend to expand on the convoys a great deal. Altering the escort based on the "value" of the cargo, with certain special convoys which impact the storyline, etc. We also intend to use larger ships in the convoys, both as cargo vessels (freighters) and escorts (cap ships). Convoys are really just a starting point, a testbed for a wide variety of behaviours.. NPC pirates, NPC wars (!), and so on. The sky's the limit.

Anyway, getting back to present day, the convoys are functioning pretty well. We've toned down the number of them, for the moment, but we will probably increase it as time goes on. Right now there's a couple of problems with the convoy implementation, they use more bandwidth than necessary and can cause laggy play for nearby modem users. We pride ourselves on our efficient use of bandwidth, so we're working to remedy this. There's also some trouble with the sheer number of warp in/out animations happening at once. We're shooting to offer less-intensive animation options for those on slower computers.

For the moment, our efforts are mainly focused in a few areas. One is improving the basic docking/undocking/collision avoidance AI used by the convoys and other bots. In larger numbers they've proven to be rather chaotic when trying to dock at a station, and we want to improve on that before we try to do a lot more with the convoys.

Secondly, we're working on making NPCs more analogous to users in how the game sees them. In other words, making NPCs and users interchangable in a lot of circumstances, so a convoy of half users half NPCs could take a mission if desired. In general, we're aiming to create a universe populated with a variety of "characters", both player and non-player, who all take the same missions, do the same trade runs, are pirates and peaceful miners. This will add a great deal of flexibility from a gameplay standpoint, and let us maintain a self-balancing economy, and other related game mechanics. Building this functionality is also a factor in bringing back the Escort Missions (for those who played them in the short time before lisa exploded). There's some troublesome factors with bringing them back immediately, like a countdown timer that never counts down.. and other problems, which we're working to fix before we reinstate those missions. They should be a lot of fun once we get them working, so we're excited about that.

Thirdly, Ray is still working hard on the UI. The basic look and feel are in place, but a lot of the actual functionality of the station menu is still in flux. I wouldn't expect the new UI in the immediate term, but it's coming along well. I'll post screenshots in the next couple of weeks to show off how things work now. Among other new features, we have resizable windows now, which are presently limited to sizing the chat panel vs the station panel in the station menu. Some parts look good, other parts are still pretty rough and need work. By the time it's finished though, it should be very cool. I know it's taken forever, but it's a pretty massive redux that Ray is doing, and it's starting to shape up pretty nicely.

Fourthly, I'm doing some graphics updates when I have time. So far I've added specularity and normal maps to the Centaur and the Ragnarok. These use the Pixel Shader 2.0 (DirectX 9) render path created for the Leviathan, so users of GeForce FX and Radeon 9500+ cards should be able to take advantage of them on Mac and Windows (not sure on the state of the Linux shaders). I'll post some before-and-after screenshots of these this week, so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. My graphics updates will go into the next client update, whenever that happens.

I'm also in the process of cleaning up and testing the new TPG cap ship, which was announced long ago and has had no follow-up. I'll get a screenshot of that out this week as well. The larger ships will begin to show up in the game firstly as NPC convoy vessels, as I mentioned above. I'm pretty optimistic of that happening Soon(tm), but we want to get some of the navigational AI situated first (can't have fancy new ships bumping into things like idiots). Once they're proven in the convoys, and we have the new UI in place, we'll move towards the user-pilotable versions.

Other known tasks, such as the faction system redux, economic re-pricing, addition of station cargo limits, CtC/BP, and so on.. are also still in process. But for this week, my priorities are helping ray with the UI design, and other immediate needs. Once he has everything he needs from me, I'll be turning to the faction system and economy again. Those problems haven't been forgotten, there's just a lot to juggle to keep everyone productive.

Lastly, I'd like to note that today is the one-year anniversary of our retail release :). Thank you to all the people who wished us a "happy birthday" today. I had hoped to have a lot of the above features done by today, but that's game development. Thank you all so much for sticking with us and supporting us over the past year. You all are the reason we do this, in much more than a monetary sense.. I can't wait for people to play with some of the stuff we're planning.. and it's getting close enough that I can actually *see* some of it starting to coalesce. Such an exciting time. So, on that note, I'm off to sleep and dream of amazing gameplay (oddly, several of us do).

I believe ctishman may have an Event planned for today, but I'm not sure what the latest is on that.. so I direct you to the messageboard for further information. Take care, thanks again.

Everything's working pretty well. We fixed a bunch of bugs tonight (thanks everyone who's been helping us bug-hunt on the Test server), but things still aren't quite working properly. We were going to release tonight, but it's getting late and we're all rather tired, and we'd rather release when we're fresh and able to deal with exciting brokenness that might erupt when we put all these major changes into production.

So, you can expect a server-only release tomorrow (no client, no real update). Barring some big unforseen bug appearing. So, yes, release Thursday, for now.. sleep.

People are more than welcome to continue messing around on the Test server (prepend your login with "test:", ie "test:Incarnate" sans quotes, logs me into the test server). Recent signups will be unable to use it, as it has an old image of the user database (a few months old), but we'll update that before we put anything else interesting on there. We Promise. For now though, we're just focusing on getting the release done tomorrow.

Thanks again for your patience, we hope you're all as excited about the new additions as we are :). The universe is actually starting to become an active place..

Things have working fairly well for the most part, but we've decided to push the release back to next week. Perhaps as early as Monday, but we'll see. The NPC traders seem to be pretty stable, although we still have some behaviours to enhance (defense, flight formations, etc), once we're confident in the basics, we'll get it going in production. Until then, thanks for your support :). Have a good weekend everyone.
We have the new Lisa replacement working pretty well under testing. Previously, using Lisa, we were unable to get 100 trade convoys (each convoy between 4 and 20 ships) to run on our test server (a dual Pentium3 600). It would start to work and then quickly fall behind on rule processing, spiralling downhill into crushing defeat from there.

During testing this evening we had no trouble running 100 trade convoys on the test server, using Andy's lisa-replacement. This was even while a bug was still present (now fixed) which reduced his new program's efficiency by around 100x. Thus, we are very optimistic about the performance of his new simplified rule-based construct.

Our production servers are much faster than our test box, so hopefully we'll have plenty of overhead for crazy bot activity and wacky gameplay excitement. Let's hope so <fingers crossed>.

So, performance is looking up, but there still is some debugging going on, mostly at a higher level. Some traders and bots are getting confused and lost under certain cases, and we want to straighten that out prior to release. Andy and Michael are still shooting for the "this week" thing, I'm just posting this so everyone has an idea of what's going on.

Andy has nearly completed his replacement for Lisa. Lisa, for those interested, can be read about here:

Lisa was theoretically fine, but we ran into massive performance and scalability problems when we moved from the "testing" phase to the "production" phase of the new rule-based gameplay code. This is what caused us to release the NPC traders and escort missions, and then rapidly un-release those features. We then spent some time spent trying to fix Lisa, or generally debug what was going on, but eventually ended with Andy writing his own replacement from scratch over the past week.

Andy and Michael are now in the final stages of fixing up the new system for testing (It has an internal development name, but not a final name at present). We hope to test with it tonight, and, if all goes well, start to use it in production this week. Of course "all going well" is open-ended, this is a whole new chunk of code, written from scratch. Theoretically, the performance should be much, much better, and we should be able to make greater use of the Deliverator. Keep your fingers crossed for theories holding up in practice later this week.

Ray is still moving forward with the UI development. The HUD and most of the in-game displays and interfaces are functional, and he's now moving on to the station menus and such. The UI development will be ongoing for awhile yet, but it's coming along well.

That's all for now, just a quick update. We'll post more when we know more, and hopefully you'll see the "new" features starting to show up again. Thank you, as always, for your patience and support.

We've been having some server-side performance troubles, which has resulted in the delays of the recently-announced features. We're now in the midst of re-architecting a lot of the lisp code that drives these new features, with the goal of making it all more scalable. We do have plenty of server horsepower, we just had some unforseen things spiral out of control and end up using faaar more CPU than was anticipated, or had shown up in previous testing.

Thus, the rearchitecture. On the upside, we should have the new NPC convoys in production sometime this week. On the downside, some of the more advanced features (escort missions, other stuff) are going to take some time to redo.

In other news, the UI work continues. Currently Ray is redoing the HUD elements with the new system. This isn't to say that he's improving things (only small things here and there), we're mostly just trying to reproduce the existing interfaces in the all-new UI subsystem. The station menus will be a heavier redux, but will still probably be a bit of an "evolution" as time goes on.

So, this week you can expect to see the new NPC convoys (again), this time with Reduced Breakage. The next major changes after that will be the economic and faction tweaks/fixes, which will be posted to (and heavily debated) on the Suggestions forum when we get closer to finalizing things (expect a post in the next two weeks). As always, thanks for your patience, we'll get these new features out as soon as they're solid.
The release has been further delayed until Friday. On the upside, the NPCs and escorts are quite cool and complex in how they are placed in the universe (more complex than we originally planned for this release). On the downside, they don't work quite right and are piling up unexpectedly in some sectors. We hope to sort it out fairly quickly on Friday (afternoon/evening) and then have plenty of time to babysit the server and make sure everything is working.

At it stands right now, the new NPC traders are allocated to a set number of trade routes that exist in the universe: point-to-point routes between a pair of given stations. The routes begin with a certain "threat" level, and the traders attempt their trade run. If pirated, the "threat" level will be increased on the given trade route, and more escorts will be allocated per NPC trader on successive attempts.

In addition, the traders are best-fit to whatever the allocated route requires to be moved. If only 150cu of cargo needs to be moved, it may show up in a few transports or marauders; if 1500cu needs to be moved, mostly Behemoths will appear. It's pretty obvious how we can expand this to also include NPC freighters of a "capital" scale, and tie it into a supply and demand driven dynamic economy, where NPCs respond to given needs (which in turn creates interesting situations where you can blockade a station to drive up prices, and so on).

At present there are (I think), only four types of NPC "traders" which will appear somewhat at random in the first iteration: the 22cu Bus variant, a marauder, an atlas and the behemoth. Three types of "escorts" will be somewhat randomly chosen to guard them, including the Centurion Mk III, a Vulture and a Warthog.

In the future, it's our intention to expand all these "pools" of possible transports and escorts (and their weapon loadouts), and choose them in ways that make sense according to the cargo, nation of origin, faction affiliation, and threat/danger of the particular route. Thus, an "itani ambassador" might be escorted on his trip to the UIT by a pair of itani military capital ships and several Valk/IBG wings, while he stays on board his armored civilian heavy transport. Alternately, an effort by Corvus to deliver stolen technology to a nearby corporation might take place with a nondescript Atlas guarded by a wing of heavily armed Vulturius fighters. All of this would, it is intended, be tied into the mission system and other gameplay to create interesting, dynamic situations that can potentially be used to trigger faction-related or universal story-arc progression, and lots of other fun stuff.

But first, we have to make them not get all confused and wander around randomly. So, first things first. At any rate, that's what we're shooting for tomorrow. We hope you'll join us for the release. Sorry to all those who have come online in hopes of being present for it over the last two days. Best laid plans of bugs and game development..

We're planning a small gameplay expansion and maintenance update for Wednesday (tomorrow). This is intended to release some new hive-related missions and related infrastructure, as well as utilize the new NPC/AI work that Andy has been doing lately. There should be a much wider variety of NPC traders, with escorts, and the roles and purposes of these ships will expand as we start to release new major features in the coming months.

The economy redux and faction fixing will come with the new UI, hopefully in another week or two. We haven't forgotten about these issues, and they will be handled before any major gameplay is added. Hope to see you all Weds.

Our colocation service provider experienced a catastrophic power loss today, despite a massive backup generator, redundant UPSs and connections to two independent power grids. We were down for a few hours because of this. We are now back online, and the game is back up and looking solid. We apologize for the inconvenience. Our provider is looking into the problem to make sure it doesn't happen again. As always, thank you for your patience and patronage.
A long range camera today cought an image of what is believed to be a new TPG Corp small/medium scale capital-class ship, long rumored to be under development by the massive corporation. Although a nearby ion storm caused heavy interference with this image of the ship, seen here preparing to make a jump, the vessel appears to be a four-engine design built around a central main hull. A public relations announcement from TPG is expected shortly, although when could be anyone's guess.
Sector jump energy requirements have been reduced from 100% to 25%, as some have noted from the MOTD. In addition, the "flare" rocket types were balanced a bit, reducing sunflare capacity from 16 to 12 per tube and increasing the lesser flares in both capacity and damage (pre-existing Sunflare launchers will incorrectly say they have "12 of 16" rockets, but this will only last until a new launcher is purchased). The wormhole "warp" animation is still being temporarily used for sector jumps while a new animation is being cooked up.

In other news, plenty of more interesting development happening with the UI, AI and Hive. You will be able to see some of our direction showing up this week on the design Wiki:

As of this writing, it has not yet been updated, but will be tonight or tomorrow. Please continue to post about any bugs to the Bugs forum or using the reporting forms. We welcome any suggestions in the Suggestions forum. Thanks, and enjoy!
We have a new release coming in a few minutes, which will address a number of gameplay problems that have been exposed in the last month or so.

You are now vulnerable when warping through wormholes (during the warp animation), and a 1-minute timer now exists to prevent you from going through the same wormhole within 60 seconds of having used it (you can still jump elsewhere, or use other wormholes).

Jumping between sectors now functions much like jumping through a wormhole. It requires full energy to jump, and uses a different effect (temporarily, it uses the wormhole effect, until a new one is made) and you are vulnerable while jumping. This is intended as a "base level" fix to address ease of "running", if more is needed on top of this, (timers, etc) so be it, but this was a very simplistic and logical way of addressing the problem which already fits with the existing gameplay.

Newbies no longer incur a special XP loss if they are killed. However, other ways of protecting them are being cooked up (Suggestions on this are welcome, as always) that will hopefully provide the desired effect without being exploitable like the current system. I'll post about that to Suggestions next week, when I'm more certain of what I want to do.

The No-Fire-Zone bug, where an attacker could manage to only temporarily lose standing, has been addressed.


These changes will be present as soon as the new release rolls out tonight. We will continue to work to correct gameplay flaws next week, and I will post further about that to the Suggestions forum. If you have any thoughts about these changes, or further changes, please post there. Thanks much, and we hope you enjoy the game.
There's a lot of stuff in the works, but I want to make sure and post about one part of development:

There's a thread on the Suggestions forum covering some of the most abused flaws in the game, and possible ways of solving them. I am in the process of reviewing these suggestions, along with my own ideas and those of others here, with the intent of fixing some of them within the week.

Many of these are very long-standing design flaws and bugs. Some are simpler and easier to fix than others. Nonetheless, they have been let slide much longer than they should, and for that I apologize. I define the development schedule here, and I have mostly been focused on a goal of game-redux that leads up to our eventual marketing campaign and hopefully.. some amount of financial stability for our company. Letting these bugs slide wasn't perhaps the best idea, I considered them all rather unpleasant flaws, but I did not consider them "show-stoppers" so to speak. So, at any rate, we're working to address some of them as quickly as possible. I wanted to give you all a heads up about this, and let you know that we're working to try and cure some of these ills.

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Guild Software, Inc.
The Hive has been loosed on Sedina. This is the first-generation Hive, it still exhibits some problems we're trying to solve, but it shows where we're headed. There's a sector crash sometimes when the Leviathan is killed, there's also some trouble respawning bots when they die, trouble with bots who repair the leviathan, and a few other things. However, the problems are sporadic and it was decided that we would release anyway, rather than further delaying while we tracked down these intermittent problems. You may also notice a message when entering a Stronghold sector that says something along the lines of "cannot load weapon_capitalcannon.dfs".. don't be concerned about this, it's not an actual problem and the message will be removed in a future release.

The Hive is spawned in a randomly chosen "empty" sector in Sedina, and from there pushes outward to occupy and defend other sectors, mining resources from them. When the Leviathan is killed, the entire system is cleared of bots within a short period of time, and the whole spawning process begins again in a few hours (see for more information).

Again, this is only a first-generation Hive, we'll be tying the expansion into a lot of other areas of gameplay. Along the lines of.. mining resources become more relevant, mining in Hive sectors becomes problematic because of the Hive presence, local mining corporations post missions to clear sectors of the Hive or overall bounties for fighting the Hive, the addition of Epic drops by the Leviathan and other special Hive representatives, etc etc. All wrapped into a major addon that completely changes how the "Player vs NPC" combat structure works and what bearing it has in the universe.

We're also doing a lot of work on the underlying "intelligence" of our AI, trying to make more adaptive and interesting combative NPCs. This will also play into the role of the Hive, as well as non-Hive NPC traders, NPC military, and other areas. The ability to hire/use NPC wingmen and traders is a desired goal from this.

So, for the moment, have fun with the existing Hive. Fight it, post tactics on the messageboard, watch as we try and make it more difficult. I am not going to add certain things, like Leviathan-killer Accomplishment medals, Epic drops or things of that nature until certain other gameplay mechanics are in place. I don't want to issue special missions to people who have killed the Leviathan, for instance, until killing the Leviathan is actually kind of difficult (right now it's too easy, I think). Storming a Stronghold was envisioned as something an entire Guild would need to do, potentially with Capital support, and it's definitely a lot easier than that right now.

In other news, the Leviathan looks kind of funny (very white) in DirectX 8.1. We aren't sure why. You can use the DirectX 9 video driver instead (in the Options panel) and it looks correct, although it gets a lot slower. We're looking into why this happens. Some shader strangeness.

I've given a facelift to some old effects (warpin/warpout wormhole animations) and will be continuing to do so for some time. I am not completely redoing whole new effects for these, mostly I'm going to just rework what's there and try and improve it quickly without spending a week making all-new graphics.

I also nerfed the Behemoth down from a turbo thrust of 1200 to 1000kN, and from a top speed of 190 to 180. I believe I also reduced the non-turbo thrust slightly. I will probably adjust the rockets in the next release, but that didn't make it into this one. I'm adding turrets to the Queens as well (not with the same turret weapon as the Leviathan, but a more "normal" weapon), that also didn't make it into this release.

We hope you enjoy the changes, a lot of people have put a lot of work into this Hive thing, especially Andy and Michael, and we're pretty excited about what we're going to do with it. Please post any problems on the messageboard, suggestions as well (in their respective forums). Thank you for your patience with us while we build all of this. Most of all, have fun :).

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Release to take place tomorrow (Weds), due to some bugs cropping up and a feature being unfinished that we would like to have in place. Weds afternoon to early evening is likely, so we can babysit the server after the new changes.
Lots of activity with the Hive. We were shooting to release this past week, but are now looking at this coming Tuesday. As has been discussed on the messageboard, there are now units that repair Queens and Leviathans and the like when they become damaged, resulting in a more difficult conquest. In addition, the Leviathan is being equipped with some new weapons and visual effects, and Queens will be getting capital-style omnidirectional turrets.

You can also expect some changes to our "old" visual effects, such as the warp-in/out animation for wormholes and the like. These changes will be ongoing in the background over the next few months, in an effort to try and bring some of our older visual effects more up to current "par". Users on older machines will be able to disable the new effects using the standard effects-quality settings in the Options menu.

Aside from this, there's also a lot of low-level work going on. Andy is developing an entirely new AI subsystem, using reinforcement learning, that is intended to be much more adaptive to different tactics and situations, and will hopefully provide much more interesting opponents while still leaving a wide range of bot difficulty. This will make more diverse high-level behaviour (like AI escorts defending a convoy, or AI pirates attacking a defended AI convoy, for that matter) considerably easier.

The Mission Editor is finally "working", ie, exporting actual missions. Work on the editor will be ongoing, probably forever, as new use cases crop up and we have to add things, but for now it's at least fundamentally usable, and we're looking at putting it to use in the near future, and tieing some missions in with Hive activity.

We're also looking a relatively major UI redux, using the new UI/windowing subsystem that was created for the mission editor. This will probably take a little while, but will be pretty fantastic in a number of ways. Both from ease of use for our creating new "stuff" (say, capital ship navigation panels and the like) or allowing users to create interfaces of their own.

There is also an economy redux in the works for the short term (under 2 weeks), which should help with some of the economic stagnation in-game.

More specific design and a schedule will be posted to the Wiki and linked from here when it becomes concrete/specific enough to post.
Our server hosting provider, Red Anvil, is expecting a short upstream connectivity outage on Tuesday 8/02, between 3am and 7am CST. This is a minor equipment change by Cogent and is expected to only be a 5 minute outage, but due to routing complexity or the unforseen, could be as long as 30 minutes.

In other news, Red Anvil will also be bringing up a second connection to Time Warner Cable in the next month, adding redundancy and performance benefits to the existing Cogent bandwidth. Users of the Road Runner cable modem networks (and others) may notice a substantial performance increase with this upgrade.
The work on the Hive is going well, but we've run into a few snags. Right now we're looking at prospectively doing a "test server" release on Friday, and if that fails, then probably Monday. By "test server" I mean that we will be testing the hive on a separate game server. There's simply been too much new code and subsystems added to the game for us to risk hurting the production universe, or seriously breaking things. Instead, we're going to open up access to our internal development server and let people connect to it. After some tweaking and testing, we'll potentially roll out the Hive in the production universe late next week.

The development server runs from a snapshot of the production database, which we will bring up to date for this purpose. Thus, anyone with a currently active account will be able to play, but character progression in the "test" universe will not be reflected in the production database. The Test server will only be accessible for a short period of time, while we test the new features and prepare for the production launch. For anyone who wishes to take part on this, watch the General forum on the messageboard for more information. I will post instructions for how to connect when we get the Hive to the point where it's ready for testing. You will be able to use your normal game client to connect.

Thanks for your patience, as always, and stay tuned for more about the Hive launch.
Hi everyone. Some of you have been wondering what we're doing, and I'm here to shed a little light on the projects currently under way.

1) The Great Mission Editor. This is coming along well. In fact, it's pretty functional, but isn't yet doing everything we need it to. It isn't particularly pretty, but you can see a screenshot of the development version here:

Anyway, much of the work going into the mission editor has a much broader purpose than simply adding new missions. As you can see in the screenshot, the entire editor has been implemented within the game engine. Much of the development time was spent creating the new UI system, which while currently very unattractive, has loads of configuration potential, including the ability use user-configured skins, etc. It's our intention to open up much of the UI functionality to the userbase and let people create their own HUDs, menu interfaces, or whatever.
It's also our hope in the longer run to allow people to directly access subsets of the mission editor from within the game. Possibilities including hiring users/NPCs to trade for you (even while offline), or mine for you, or defend your personal station, or perhaps even hire mercenaries to attack other players and NPCs. All of which are entirely feasable with this new development work. User-defined missions are a very old design goal for us, and one that is hopefully now drawing nearer.

2) The Hive. This has been announced for some time on the wiki design doc, but not much has been seen as far as actual gameplay. The underpinnings of a whole new rule-driven AI system, written in Lisp, has been created by Andy and Michael. They've been making pretty swift progress on this, and the first real tests of the Hive as a whole are going onto the development server this week. It's likely that you'll be seeing Hive appearances in the next couple of weeks.

So, in conclusion, there's a bunch of new stuff on the way, and you'll be seeing signs of it shortly. Thanks for your patience, as always. We're excited about everything we have planned for this summer, and we think you'll love it. It's our intention to make up for the last few months of inactivity. Additionally, I'll be making an effort to post here once a week from now on, since the whole "design wiki" thing hasn't quite been the center of unbridled activity that I hoped it'd be. But, new info will be showing up there as well. Thanks again everyone.

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Managing Director, Guild Software Inc.
Michael Warnock has joined the team at Guild Software, developers of the multi-platform MMO "Vendetta Online". A veteran programmer and avid gamer, he brings a wealth of experience and fresh excitement to the project. Michael will be working on much of the new content currently in development, including high-level gameplay, behavioural AI and other related tasks. "We're thrilled to have Michael onboard" said John Bergman, Managing Director of the company, "His previous experience as an MMO developer, his extensive background in multiplatform coding, as well as his enthusiasm for our product made him an ideal team member." Michael can be seen on the messageboards and in-game as "Momerath".

Please join us in welcoming him aboard.
Wizards of Technology, a popular mac-driven podcast radio show has interviewed John "Incarnate" Bergman, Managing Director of Guild Software, regarding Vendetta Online. Check it out for some sneak peeks at the game's future, and an upcoming Vendetta-related contest.

(actual interview starts about 30 minutes into the show)
Hi folks, a small bit of an update about our goings-on. We've been quiet in part because of infrastructural changes and work mentioned in previous newsposts and messageboard threads.

Among other things, we're moving this week. Our landlord wants our particular office (the home of Guild since 2000) and has offered us a great deal on a larger, nicer office upstairs. So, a couple of days this week will probably be spent moving an reorganizing in our new digs. This will be very cool for a couple of reasons, including the fact that we'll have more space for new employees, which brings me to the second point..

We're most likely going to be bringing a new dev onboard in the next week or so. We will introduce him to you all in due course. He'll be helping us add some of the high-level gameplay you've seen discussed on the messageboard and on the new Design Wiki:

(which is still extremely sparse and incomplete, I have a great deal of notes and older documentation which needs to be rewritten and added there).

Anyway, in other news, development progress is moving along, towards the Hive goal outlined in the Wiki, as well some other prospects. We have a new mission/AI editor in the works, which should allow us to rapidly add a lot of interesting content (missions, NPCs, whatever), and even potentially let outside people contribute content (a long-term goal).

So, in closing, lots of stuff happening here. We're planning on a lot of big game changes in the near future. In the meantime, check the messageboard regularly for some posts I'm going to make regarding a few of those changes, and we hope you're enjoying the game!

- John "Incarnate" Bergman

P.S. The office move will not affect the game at all, as all our core servers are located in a datacenter off-site.
Hello, we'd like to make everyone aware of some changes we've been going through at Guild Software. Waylon, who's been with us doing artwork and various code since 1998, is leaving the company to pursue other interests. We've known about this, and seen this coming for some time, and it's very amicable on all sides. He's a bit burnt out on space games and wants to take on a new project, and he also wants to move away from Milwaukee. This was not a money problem of any sort, he just needs a change of pace and a change of scenery, and that's quite understandable.

For those of you who are now saying "Oh No! They're going from four developers down to three! They're DOOMED!", relax. None of us are very concerned about this change, or any negative impacts it may have on our company. We do not anticipate an impact on overall productivity. Waylon left us with a fair amount of new art content, which we'll be integrating over the next few months. We're also in discussions with a few people over possible positions here at Guild Software. If anything, we hope to grow the company by perhaps two to three more employees by the end of the year. Ray, Andy and myself (John) are still solidly dedicated to the game, and very excited about the direction we're taking. You'll be seeing some of our reasons for excitement appearing in the near future.

You may have also noticed that we've been rather "quiet" lately. Both on our own boards, as well as in the greater gaming community. We've done no interviews or press for some months, and have been keeping a relatively low profile since the beginning of the year. Basically, we've been planning a number of major new changes (which have been touched on, here and there, in the sporadic In Progress posts). We want these changes to be solidly defined and get the basics in place, and then begin to announce our directions and advancements over the coming months. We are shooting to fix many of what we consider to be the major "problems" with our game ("why are we here and what are we doing?"), as well as add a number of very cool enhancements. The nature of these changes will be made public with the new Wiki Design, which is still in development (sorry it's taking so long). I (John) have personally been very quiet lately, and I will continue to be until I get our direction mapped out a little further. But I think (or hope, at least) that you will find our plans worth the wait.

So, to recap, Waylon "Vlad" Brinck is leaving the company. This is sad, and we're all sorry to see him go, but we wish him the best. Guild Software, Inc is still strong, happy and healthy, and looking forward to adding a lot of cool stuff to our game over the coming year. We thank you for your patience with us so far, and we hope you'll stick around to see what we have in store.

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Managing Director
Guild Software, Inc.
Vendetta Online will be going down tonight around midnight for maintenance and migration to new IP address space. This is a continuation of the internet migration we went through a week or two ago. It should be back up pretty quickly, we've gone to some trouble to get things ready in advance as much as possible, in the interest of a quick cutover.

Thanks for your patience, as always.
Check out what's up in the world of Vendetta Online development!
This version should fix the recent server problems that were exposed by the first attempt to integrate the cap ship. The heavy assault cruiser SMV Nemesis has been placed on a constant patrol from Serco Prime to the Geira/Deneb border. It and its wingmen will respond to attackers. Once we've determined the cap ship is stable and working, we'll be adding some missions that revolve around it.

We've also added a distance-based arming safety to all rockets. This means that a rocket's proximity trigger will not arm/detonate if the firing ship is within a certain proximity. The "lockout distance" varies with the rocket type.. from 40 meters on the Iceflares, to 80 meters on the Screamers. Sunflares are 60 meters. Further tweaking of distances and other factors will likely still be needed, but this should have some affect on rocket-ramming. NOTE: If a target is actually struck with a rocket, it *will* detonate, the arming lockout distance only affects the proximity trigger.

The Prometheus family has also had its thrust reduced, across the board, by 25N. The SkyCommand has had a small reduction in turning thrust. The Valkyrie, Vengeance and IDF Vigilant have all been increased by 5N of thrust.

Some performance bugs have also been addressed, the game should now be faster under some conditions. Many other small changes and bugfixes (see Updater MOTD for details).
The Vendetta Online game and webserver will be going down at Midnight tonight (Thurs, 03/10/05), Central Standard Time, for necessary maintenance and movement of the server cluster to a new ethernet switch. The scheduled timeframe for this outage is from midnight to 2am. If all goes well, it may be back more quickly. Thanks for your patience.
This release brings added Dueling features, changes to weapon and ship balance (notably the rockets, Prometheus and Centurions, as well as general energy weapon speed). This release was also supposed to feature the capital ship, but during post-release testing we discovered a server bug that will require further study before we put the cap ship into production again (we did try it in production, as Serco people online at 3am can attest). Several bugs were fixed, including the Mac/OpenGL problem with the glow effect color. See the changelog for more information.
This release adds a new ship to the game, a major cargo carrier under the name of the "Behemoth". Additionally, we've added a ranking system for duels, you can now see the "Duel Stats" menu on the website sidebar (you may need to shift-reload). The capital ship is coming.. it was planned for this release, but didn't make it in. Needs a little more time. A great many other minor changes, improvements and bugfixes have also been made. Light ships have been slightly tweaked, the IBG and RevC Centurion have 5N less thrust, the Valkyries all have reduced turbo battery consumption (except for the Rune). Re-assessments of other ships, including the lights, will continue. Look for the cap ship later this week.
We'd like to deeply apologize for the outage today, caused in part by an intermittent ethernet-card problem in a server, and exacerbated by some cellphone coverage issues and other lameness. We're taking steps to minimize the chances of this sort of thing happening again, and you can expect some scheduled maintenance downtime midweek to work on this further (we'll post as soon as we've scheduled the outage with our internet provider). As always, thanks for your patience and patronage.
The Community Sites page ( ) has been updated (finally). Several new sites have been added, including a few Guilds. If I've forgotten to update or add anyone, please contact the address on the page.
A rather verbose In Progress update has been posted (see lefthand sidebar, or ). For new users.. In Progress updates are posted to show what's going on with the game, and what the four of us are up to as far as future development and direction are concerned. It is intended to be updated every Monday, but usually slides to every couple of weeks, depending on what's going on.
A number of users have created a new Wiki-based Vendetta Online resource, hosted here:

It features a great deal of information and answers to frequently asked questions. It is a 100% user-created and maintained resource, and worth a look, but Guild Software cannot guarantee the accuracy of information you find there.
This version includes some bugfixes, changes and game balance alterations. The new trade mission has been adjusted and bugfixed a little, and faction increases are now 60% of what they have been. Negative-faction warning messages are now displayed more obviously in the center of the HUD, as are a few other messages. Anyone who attacks you is auto-marked as red on the HUD radar. Other radar adjustments are in the works.

The Ragnarok has joined the family of rebalanced heavy ships, along with the Atlas. The Prometheus and Centaur have also been adjusted somewhat. The SkyCommand is the least changed, but overall thrust has been dropped from 680 to 640 and armor dropped from 22000 to 21000, turbo energy usage dropped from 65 to 60. The lesser Proms have been brought more in line under their big brother. The Centaur has been adjusted to handle a bit less like a Big Scary Fighter, but there is still a special UIT-faction variant (the Centaur Aggresso) which retains some of the battleworthy handling. An attempt was made to keep the Atlas feeling more or less like it always has, although with increased mass/thrust to help offset heavy loadouts. Further testing and refinment may be necessary, however.

The fighters have been lightly touched. The Corvus Vulturius may now prove a little more useful in the battlefield, but without its record-breaking top speed. The Serco Guardian Vulture has also had its thrust slightly improved and the turbo energy usage dropped to more firmly match the Rev C Centurion.

Other balance releases will be forthcoming this week, to futher tweak these changes, along with updating the Wraith, Hornet and other ships. Then the Large-port weapons will be reworked (all weapons, but with a focus on the Large ones) to add a few more interesting types and rebalance their masses to favor those heavier ships capable of dealing with such a loadout.

As always, constructive criticism on the messageboard is welcome. With luck, we should be through this major phase of ship rebalance by early February. Thanks for your patience, and have fun!
This release introduces some ship balance changes to the heavier ships. The light ships need to be revisited again, we know, but for the moment this update focuses on the Prometheus and the Centaur. Both are greatly increased in Mass (10,000kg on the Prom, upwards of 15,000kg on the Centaur) but also greatly increased in thrust (650N on even the basic Prometheus). The rationale being that we can now create a somewhat-maneuverable heavy ship, which may not match up to a light ship in pure combat, can handle heavier addons and cargo without as much impact on the ship's performance. Next to get this treatment will be the Ragnarok and, to a lesser extent, the Atlas. The SkyCommand is also up to 22,000hp again.

In addition, I also altered the Mining Marauder (a hotly debated topic) to increase cargo capacity to 60 and turbo thrust to 250N (from 180).. so it will reach its top speed (still 180M/s) relatively quickly, even with a full load. It is still not a fighter craft, and is not designed to be.

The Centurion IBG had some typos fixed that make it on part with the Rev C. Both ships may need adjustment in the future, like I said, we're going to revisit the light ships again shortly.

A few weapons were lightly adjusted. Flechette Canons now use less energy. Swarm missiles are now slightly less maneuverable and time out more quickly.

The next balance update will be on Monday, so please check out the changes and constructively post your thoughts on the messageboard. I have some reservations about the Centaur maybe being a bit too powerful now, but we'll see how it goes. Thanks again to everyone for their patience with these ongoing changes.

A new version debuts the new trading mission system and a few other features. This is not a major ship/weapon balancing update, but it does feature a few changes (Mining Marauder has been nerfed somewhat, a few other things). A more comprehensive balance update will be forthcoming later this week.

Changes from 1.1.7:
- Mining bots mine asteroids closer to the center of the sector so they are easier to find
- Increased rewards of prospecting mission
- New trade mission available for testing
- Added accomplishment for killing/damaging 10 queens
- Guild commanders can vote out a lientenant.
- Bots use new path-finding system (not perfect, but an improvement over no path planning whatsoever)
- Added hyphen in sector names in log menu and elsewhere
- Junkyard mission requires slightly fewer crates now
- Fixed MacOS X bug when going from fullscreen to window mode of a different resolution
- Worked around Linux XF86VidModeExtension problem when windowmode=1
- Queens give XP now
- Fixed some typos
- Waste handling bot mission (spy 2 mission) has 30 minute timeout again
- Balanced some ship and weapon stats
A minor game update will be forthcoming on Tuesday (today), which will fix some server-side problems and introduce some improvements to AI code and a few other things. Among said changes, it will now be possible to follow mining bots back to the queens (within 1000m, their jump destination will be displayed).

We also have some updates for In Progress, which will be updated Tuesday evening. The ship/weapon tweaking will also pick up and continue in the near future, starting with some adjustments to the changes that have already been put in place. The general impetus of design is now towards tying together and properly utilizing the new features we've already put in place (mining, in-game news, etc).

Thank you all for your patience, and we hope everyone had a great newyear.
We'd just like to take a moment to point to a couple of great places to help out victims of the asian Tsunami:

The American Red Cross -

AmeriCares -

And a company near our home town of Milwaukee, WI. They make water purification tablets, one of the most-needed relief items. They've donated thousands of bottles themselves, and they will match 20% on top of any donation purchased for the Tsunami relief. You can direct your donation to be used by AmeriCares:

Have a great newyear and a happy holiday season. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming: Game news forthcoming on Monday.
Rebalancing, tweaking and bugfixing. Ships now all have unique engines, many of which have been altered from their previous settings. "Fighter" type ships are now a bit faster, with higher top speeds and (sometimes) increased maneuverability. The fastest ship in the game now has a top speed of 245M/s. The fastest ships also have increased turbo energy usage, reducing their range at high speeds. Most of the larger ships have been left untouched for the moment (the SkyCommand Prometheus has been improved), but this is just the first iteration of tweaking.. expect more changes and adjustments to happen. NOTE: in order to see the new changes made to the ship, you will need to purchase a new version of the ship. Pre-patch ships are not affected.

A couple of new ship types have been added, mining specific variants of the Warthog and Marauder specifically. A few weapons have been adjusted. The Gauss has been slightly reduced in mass. The Mark III Neutron Blaster has been slightly increased in mass and energy usage.

Some interface changes have been made to the Character Info screen. The Navigation screen now supports the setting of multiple waypoints using Shift+click [UPDATE: Waypoints are not working on the Mac or Linux, this will be fixed in a patch on Tuesday night]. Many other changes and bugfixes.
This version adds a number of features and fixes a variety of problems. For a specific list, see the Vendetta Updater MOTD (Message Of The Day) printed on game startup. Significant additions include..

New Accomplishment medals and bonuses for achieving them: A variety of new medals have been added, for everything from certain numbers of PvP kills to prospecting successes. These accomplishments often unlock new bonus items (ships, equipment) relevant to the type of accomplishment. The medals can be viewed in the Character information panel in stations, or by hitting the "k" key in flight. Medals are temporarily unable to be selected to display more information about them, but this feature will be returning shortly.

Channel 11 is a temporary Nation Chat channel. All chat on this channel may only be viewed by members of your nation.

Bounty System: This patch marks the first introduction of the bounty system, specifically the Legal Bounty System. This is roughly half of the planned bounty system, the second half being an "assasination" driven Illegal Bounty System. The two are interlinked and are intended to suit different purposes. Important points about the Legal Bounty System now in place:

Bounties can be placed by Nations, Corporations and Individuals. Nations and Corporations may either (or both) place bounties on people who act against their interests. In all cases, a bounty placed through the auspices of a national bounty system may only be placed on someone who is Kill On Sight with that nation. Aside from this, the Nations and Corporations also have additional requirements for the placing of a bounty. Individuals who wish to place bounties must, at present, pay at least $1 million credits.

Bounties may be taken by anyone with a Bounty Hunter License, which may be acquired from the local Marshal NPC in the various Capital sectors. A Bounty Hunter License requires Combat, Heavy and Light weapons license levels of 4 or greater, as well as a one-time fee of $50,000c. Once the Hunter license is acquired, any person with a Bounty on their head may be attacked. Dispatching them successfully will result in the reward being instantly transferred to the Hunter's account.

IMPORTANT FACT: Having a bounty placed on your head, and being killed by a character with the Hunter license, will result in a 5 percent loss of skill in all areas (Combat, Light Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Mining, and so on). Again, being the "victim" of a successful bounty will lose you 5% across all skill types.

Once a user is killed from a bounty situation, there will be a temporary moratorium on further bounties on that character. Additionally, bounties can also be "bought out", but doing so places stringent requirements on the activities of the character buying out their bounty, specifically related to the space of the affiliated Nation, and any actions against citizens of that Nation.

A full and complete description of this half of the bounty system, along with its interworkings, will be added to the Manual in the near future (this weekend). The second half of the system (assasinations) will debut in coming weeks. The next update will focus mainly on gameplay rebalancing and tweaking of existing game content.
After some discussion, we put it off for another day. We'll put out the release on Weds the 8th. Most likely in the evening (CST). This gives us a little time to tweak some additional Bounty-System postings for the in-game news, and other features.
The new version, featuring the introduction of the Bounty System and various fixes, will be released tomorrow (the 7th).
An update to In Progress is coming.. a little late, partially due to the radio interview ( ) and partially due to some additional design work. The Bounty System is the next big thing, due to first appear (not entirely completed) in a patch on Monday. We're shooting to add a whole Bounty Hunter playable angle. Watch the news page for updates on this in the near future.
The new release, featuring the News framework and various other changes, will be coming around 5pm CST on Tuesday (the 23rd). We pushed it back a bit to tune a few more things and schedule it at a time when we'll all be around to respond to any problems that come up.
New feature release version including the Mining System. Equip your ship with mining beam, scan for different types of minerals and ores, and sell the results of your efforts. This includes a new skill tree and a variety of new addons. The basic functionality is covered in an updated section of the manual:

[ ]

Which we recommend reading. Also a host of other changes in this release, some requested, some bugfixes. Damaged ships are now auto-repaired on docking, and no longer require explicit repairs. License tests are now both free and automatic, once you reach the necessary skill level you are given the associated License. AI for bots and NPCs has been dramatically improved, and the bots may need to be nerfed a bit now. Many other changes and bugfixes, big and small, can be viewed in the MOTD on game startup.
The new release, introducing mining features, will be coming tonight. However, be advised that "tonight" runs pretty late for us, it may be early morning CST before we put it into production. We think the new mining features are pretty cool and we hope people will enjoy them.
[ In Progress update available here: ]

Hi everyone. A rather late post due to a long meeting and an involved in-progress update. For those of you who are just joining us, the In Progress update is something we do every Monday after our company meeting (or, in this case, at 5:30am Tuesday morning), which says what we're shooting to add over the coming week(s). This is a pretty major update, as you will all see. I hope you're all as excited about these new features as we are, we're really looking forward to getting them in there and playing with them. If you have any input, feel free to post to our Suggestions forum (available to all users with accounts).

Also, we have a new manual online here:

It's a complete ground-up redesign, and we will be replacing the old client-side copy with it in the next patch. New users, please read it, old users, please also read it and let us know if anything is incorrect or in need of improvement :).

The Chronicles of Exile [ ], the VO backstory, have also gotten some new illustrations lately. Be sure and check them out, thanks to Mark Facey for the cool landscapes and environmental art.

Thanks again eveyone, for helping and supporting us while we make this game. It's gonna be cool!
[ NOTE - In Progress has been updated: ]

If you have a problem with the game, especially a bug, the very best thing to do is log into this website and post to the messageboard (there are forums for Windows, Linux and OS X problems, as well as the general and bugs forums). That way, other users with the same problem can help out with the issues, there's a record of how to solve the problems available to everyone, and we get a better idea of how many people are having the problem. If you do post a bug, please include details about your system configuration.

For billing and other account problems, please email "billing at vendetta-online dot com" or "support at vendetta-online dot com".

North American customers may also call Strategy First for support at (514)844-2433, but be advised that we are still in the process of training their support staff.

There are only four of us in this company (Guild Software, we make this game), but we make every effort to respond to support email and postings as quickly as possible, usually within a couple of hours. This might not be up to par with some of the bigger companies, but on the other hand, here you're actually getting a response directly from the developers.. so if something needs fixing, it'll get done right away ;).

Thanks much, we hope you're all enjoying the game.
The game is now online as a pay-to-play product, and should be available at some retail locations (EB, GameStop) today. Major credit cards currenty accepted (Visa/MC/Amex/Discover), and we should have PayByCash up in the near future to accept PayPal, etc. The pricing model is as follows:

1 month for 9.99
3 months for 26.99
6 months for 48.99
12 months for 89.99
24 months for 159.99

No retail purchase necessary, you can download the game directly from us and start playing right away. But, if you buy the game in stores ($29.99) you get 30 days free, plus a bunch of snazzy extras (printed manual, nice poster, etc).

We have a free trial right now, which is 8 hours of in-game time. Once that is up, you need to pay $9.99 or sign up for one of the other block payment methods.

Thanks, and welcome to the game!
There has been some confusion about subscription methods. Here is how it breaks down:

If you purchase VO in a retail store after Nov 1, you get a Retail Key that comes with the game. You'll need to set up a payment method once you use the key, but you won't be billed for 30 days.

If you pre-ordered the retail version from GameStop, you were supposed to receive a special pre-order key. This key gives you 60 days free, although you will still need to set up a payment method. Once you have used the pre-order key you cannot use the retail key that will come in your game (but you can give it to someone else to try if you want). If you use a retail key first, and then a pre-order key, it will add an extra month (giving the same 2 months total, free).

If you pay for the game on our website, you are immediately paying for time (3 months, 6 months, etc), which is automatically associated with your account. If you had already used a pre-order key, and then ALSO bought time, you'll get 2 months, plus the number of months you ordered (2+3 = 5 months, for instance). If you paid for the game on our site, and then LATER use a pre-order key, you'll have 2 months added to your account. If you LATER use a retail key, you'll have one month added.

To recap, pre-order keys and retail keys are not additive. The basic key system is sound and not that complex, but this pre-order scenario has made it rather confusing. This is due in large part because GameStop has not sent out keys to all the people who ordered the game. If you paid for any form of our game, from GameStop, or online, and do not currently have access or are otherwise confused, send an email to billing at guildsoftware dot com, and we'll straighten it out as best we can.

Thanks for your patience with all of this.
It is now possible for Beta customers to "Pre-Order" the game by logging into the website and using the "Billing Options" parameter on the left-hand sidebar. Major credit cards accepted (PayByCash soon). Minimum "pre-order" status purchase is 3 months of gameplay at $26.99 (Plus tax for WI residents).

Game will be globally available for free trial and direct (download) orders at a $9.99 minimum purchase on Monday.
For anyone who has pre-ordered Vendetta Online from GameStop and has not yet received their pre-order keys, we recommend emailing the following person:

ValerieVaughn at gamestop dot com

She should get you your keys as quickly as possible (which, due to the lateness of this post, may be Monday). Include your order number and other information.
Apple Games has posted an article about Vendetta Online, relating some of our ongoing intentions for gameplay and including a condensed version of the universe history. Read more about it here:
Bugfixes and Feature Additions:

- Fixed problem on OSX for sound cards that have hardware formats other than 2 channel stereo float format
- Fixed Options so they correctly work with the Apply button
- New players automatically receive a free ship in addition to the tutorial mission
- Removed InGame Menu (Pressing Esc now opens the Options menu and Log Off is located there.)
- Moved Quit button from station menu into Options menu
- Nonexclusive joystick capture that will hopefully fix the problem with people losing joystick support mid-game
- /charinfo gives more information on floating crates
- %target% doesn't include guild tag anymore
- "Arcade" mode is now labeled as Flight-Assist mode and is a checkbox in the Input Menu
- Chatmode is saved to config.ini file on a per character basis (whether sector or channel chat is active)
- More info in the station menu for various items
- Moved cargo capacity and hitpoints into scroll region in ship select/buy menu in station
- More error msgs when playlist fails to load
- Bot death message is only relayed to killer instead of everyone in the sector
- Station is rendered in the background of the station menu
- Start menu doesn't slide in anymore
- Pressing enter after typing password now automatically logs you into the game
- User-definable chat colors by manually adding settings to config.ini
- Capture the Cargo is in place, convoys carrying rare trade goods travel from stations in unclaimed space to stations in Itani and Serco territory. Players can listen in on channels 201 and 202 (for Itani and Serco, respectively) for messages about transport departures and arrivals. Whichever nation achieves more cargo deliveries in a week's time will be able to produce a special piece of equipment at its stations. UIT players receive large bonuses for helping one side or the other.
- Cargo now has weight, some items have a greater volume. Ships generally have more cargo space and reduced mass, allowing for the variants to be slightly more distinctive. Economy has been tweaked to reflect changes in cargo capacity.
- Jettisoned cargo containers now contain groups of cargo instead of one item per box.
- Updated tutorial with some new information and bug fixes
- Station guards and strike team pilots have been given unique names
- License tests now show up only when you're eligible for a level, and you can pay for your different licenses independently.
- New version of the Advanced Combat Training mission, available in single player or group variants. Should be less frustrating. Also, single-player variant doesn't abort on logoff.
- Basic Combat Training now only available until level three, gives a more even curve of rewards for killing bots. Doesn't abort on logoff.
- Border war now available as a group mission.
- Players who have received five "good" ratings for mentoring will get a 5% discount at their nation's stations.
- New tips on loading screen. (needs to be centered)
- Improved some background graphics and lighting (most notably in Sedina)
Pre-Orders will only be possible via the respective GameStop and EB Games websites, and not at the actual stores. Setting up a pre-order process at the brick-and-mortar retailer level was apparently not possible, due to the lead time required. Strategy First's recent press release wasn't specific about the website-only aspect, and there's been a fair amount of confusion (even for us), so we wanted to make sure and clarify this fact publicly.

EB Games doesn't have Vendetta Online in their website selection yet, so the only known pre-order available via GameStop here:

(if the link doesn't work, simply search for Vendetta Online). Also, the game will not be available for pre-order via "Apple", to correct Strategy First's earlier release.

If you are interested in purchasing the game, please consider pre-ordering. It's especially important for an MMO, as it gives us a better idea of our launch-time audience, which helps us more accurately determine the server capacity needs. Thanks.
The In Progress page has been updated, with information on what's coming in the patch on Friday:

In other news, Vendetta Online is now available for Pre Order at EB Games and GameStop. You should be able to pre-order it in person at any EB or GameStop location, or you can order it online here:

All three platforms (Mac/Linux/Windows) do come with that version, ignore the "Platform: PC" description. We also expect EB to have it online sometime soon.

What you get by preodering:

- An extra 30 days free (60 days total, a $20 value)
- Access to the beta
- Advanced access to the final game launch. Pre-Order customers will be able to start working on their characters after the "post-beta" character wipe, but before the retail launch, giving them a head start on everyone else.
- Exclusive in-game benefits
- Printed booklet version of the Chronicles of Exile (universe backstory)
- Vendetta Online poster, featuring the launch universe map and some other cool graphics.
- Snazzy Vendetta Online box
- Undying devotion of Guild Software.

You are supposed to get a "pre-order key" from GameStop and EB after preordering. As far as we can tell, they haven't gotten this going yet. When you do, you will be able to convert a normal Beta account to a Pre-Order account (advisable for our current Beta users, or you may lose Alpha user status, etc), or create a new account, for those who are not already in the Beta. Further information will be posted for our existing Beta users, here and on the messageboard.
On Wednesday we sent out roughly 5700 beta keys to every user who had signed up to our email contact list. If you signed up after 2pm CST on Wednesday (or thereabouts) you would not have received a key, but everyone else was mailed, no one was denied. Some people had invalid email addresses (typos?), others reportedly had the contact email go to their Spam or Junk folder. If you had signed up and didn't receive a key, you are welcome to sign up again, we'll send out some more keys next week. We did not reject anyone from the beta program.

Web Browsers: Some people are reportedly having issues logging into the website and not seeing the left-hand sidebar that contains the "Download" link. We have tested our site under recent Internet Explorer, Netscape, Safari, Mozilla/FireFox, Konqueror and Opera. If you use a different browser, your mileage may vary. We recommend using a modern version of one of the above browsers (Firefox, in particular, is our choice). FYI.
Largely a bugfix release, including the following:

- Ship purchase menu saves last purchased ship color. It defaults to your nation's color
- Level 0 large weapons are available everywhere now.
- Number of bots are not increased so drastically when there are more than 6 players.
- Group missions are now properly aborted when the mission owner leaves the group. Was causing people to possibly have 2 group missions simultaneously.
- Bots don't aggro if you nudge them (and do less than 40 damage)
- Players don't become KOS when they bump into each other outside of a station
- Exiting Vendetta by pressing the X button in Windows doesn't result in a crash now.
- Fixed a mission when someone asked for a scanner when they were not in a station.
- Better checking for invalid media.rlb file
- Pressing the space bar after closing the Char Info menu in the station no longer results in logoff
- Changed tab ordering on some station buttons
- Big red box isn't rendered anymore when you close the console and you are scrolled back. It's still there when you normally scroll back.
- Players don't come to a stop in arcade mode when launched from the station anymore
- Added [wavsound] bufsize=4096 (default) and [macsound] bufsize=4096 (default) to config.ini
- More joysstick errors are sent to dinput.log in Windows now.
- Fixed some crashing bugs in all 3 platforms
- Fixed duel stuff
- Added /guild decline "character name"
- Tried to make sure Vendetta stays focused when it starts up in Windows under certain circumstances.
- Some server fixes in hopes of a less latent experience
- Fixed some typos in some mission texts
Sorry about the extra emails that some people may have received. In sending out the beta contact messages, our email script was a little broken. We apologize for any inconvenience.
We're currently making some last-minute changes to the client, before we roll up a new release distribution and send out the contact emails. By our usual standards, the release will probably occur later tonight (CST).

To download the game client, we will only be distributing it via BitTorrent for the first 24 hours. You can acquire the BitTorrent client here:

Some users behind firewalls and rate-shaping mechanisms may be unable to use BitTorrent, so we'll make it available via standard HTTP/FTP after 24 hours. Making the download BitTorrent-exclusive for the first few hours will hopefully reduce our bandwidth overhead, as well as make the downloads a lot faster for everyone (BitTorrent is a P2P distributed file-exchange system).
In light of the various reports surfacing recently about Strategy First's filing for a court-sponsored financial restructuring, we've been asked if this will effect the rollout of Vendetta Online.

The short answer is: no, we do not expect this will negatively impact our game rollout. Strategy First is our North American retail-distribution and marketing partner only. We are not financially dependent on them, and moreover, we will be directly handling all recurring income from the game (the $9.99 per month is billed by us). In the worst-case scenario, we will simply be limited to distributing the game online. As long as we have a sufficient subscriber base, the game will go on.

Also, for what it's worth, Strategy First has been very supportive of our project, to date, bending over backwards to make things happen for us despite their difficult situation. Based on what we've heard from them, along with their fall game lineup, we believe they stand a great chance of recovery.

Related article:
Beta 1.0.3 (and successive bugfix releases, 1.0.4 and 1.0.5) were released Friday night, the 24th.

- Improved Windows support for non-US keyboards
- Improved bot behaviour
- renamed bots
- new types of bots
- continuous music while loading (new threaded soundsystem)
- background musical themes change with regions of space
- /guild command added, with persistent guild features
- /duel command added, allowing new factionless PvP
- new non-mouselook mode for when mouselook mode is off
- fixed spy mission, increased reward
- reward money for prospecting mission
- altered other mission storylines
- fixed rendering of special ships in ship-buy/select menu
- changed Char Info menu
- changed ship buy/select menu
- linux version has ALSA support
The final box art for the game was shipped off for printing earlier this week, and can be seen here:
The rollout of Vendetta Online has been unavoidably pushed back due to various manufacturing delays. These include the printing facilities being affected by the weather brought by Hurricane Ivan, and manufacturing resources being saturated with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The new release date is October 26th. On the upside, this delay will allow us some extra time to further refine and polish the game, to make sure the launch goes smoothly.

The Gold Master was shipped on time, and will be appearing in stores as a single Hybrid CD with Windows, MacOS X and Linux versions all on one disc. Pre-order information will be posted as soon as possible.

In related news, those who have signed up for Beta notification should be hearing from us within the next seven days. We may test the key system with the opening of the beta, so only those who have signed up will gain access. Thus, if you would like access to the beta, please sign up here:

Existing Beta users don't need to be concerned about this. Thanks, and keep watching for further updates!
Vendetta Online will be going gold in early September, with a final street date of October 5th. Pricing data and preorder information will be posted in the near future. Pre-order promotions will be offered to Earth & Beyond users and others. We will be expanding our Beta in the near future. Those who wish to be notified when we open to additional beta accounts should sign up here:
Gamer God has posted their recent interview regarding Vendetta Online. It can be found here:
IGN RPG Vault has posted the second part of their interview regarding our game, viewable here:
IGN RPG Vault has posted the first part of their Vendetta Online interview. Read more about it here:
We'll be doing a release this Friday, integrating a number of changes and new features into the game. Among these will be the implementation of the true NPC Defense Guard, who will handle troublemakers and people of Kill On Sight faction standing in their respective locales. We'll also be introducing the Group PvP missions, intended to bring characters together in border clashes along the Serco/Itani border. A chat revamp is also planned, but uncertain if it'll make it into this release.

The Public Stress-Test: we haven't forgotten about this. Yes, the signup CGI all says "June". Sorry, we're a bit past that now ;). In any event, we hope to open the game to public stress testing in the near future. Perhaps as soon as next week, depending on the outcome of testing with the imminent release on Friday. Thanks for your patience.. the game is coming along.
Version 3.5.0 marks the launch of the new universe. For those who do not have it currently bound, you will need to

/bind n nav use the new navigation system. All 7,680 sectors are available, but will still continue to have their contents tweaked and improved over the coming months.. and probably for the entire life of the game (we'll always be adding things). You must be 3000m from the nearest object to jump to another sector.

Chat System - global chat has been removed and replaced with General Chat (up to 3000m distance), Sector Chat (entire sector), Group Chat (current group), Long Range Chat (only available in stations, covers the entire territory of the current faction, very rate limited), and also Help Chat and Guild Chat (Guild Chat is not fully implemented yet). Additionally, you can chat with the people onboard a given station by visiting the Station Bar.

Buddy System. "/buddy". You can add buddies, be notified when they log on or off, get the last time they were online, and leave notes for them to read next time they come online.

Player Voting. At present, players can "/vote" to mute an abrasive individual, 30 votes will result in a 24 hour muting for that user. All relevant information is logged and recorded by the server when this occurrs.

Player Mentors. Players can offer to mentor new users, with the "/mentor" command. When the newbie reaches a certain level, they are prompted to rate their mentor (good/bad). Mentoring points are recorded, and will eventually be used to open up new gameplay options (missions/equipment).

There are now 56 variations of ships, some of which are faction-specific and available only to those of particularly high faction standing. Several new weapons have also been added. Engines are no longer configurable between ships (or we will be removing that) and will come with the ship. This is necessary to permit ship balancing to work a little better. Making engines generically configurable between all ships required too many tradeoffs, which resulted in some of our past imbalances (the Centurion being.. less cool than it should have been, etc). If we can make the engines specific to the particular ship, that gives us a lot more room to tweak it to work better with the inertial matrix of the specific ship.

Lots of other stuff, this just covers the highlites and should answer some common questions. More data will be forthcoming on the messageboard or future newsposts. Thanks, please keep the bug reports and feedback coming!
Strategy First has made a press release announcing the retail launch of Vendetta Online this summer.
Minor updates to the Screenshots, Introduction and the FAQ. More significant changes coming soon to the FAQ and Vendetta Universe pages.
Guild Software will be partnering with Nvidia to demonstrate Vendetta Online at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA this week. We will be showing the game in a kiosk in Nvidia's main booth in the South Hall at the following times:

Wed 10:30 - 1:50
Thur 9:30 - 1:50
Fri 9:30 - 11:50

Either Waylon ("Vlad") or John ("Incarnate") will be available to demo the game and answer questions. Anyone at E3 is welcome to stop by and chat with us.
The new site is online. A lot of content will be coming soon, describing the forthcoming product in greater detail. We've also temporarily closed Tester signups. Our current userbase is sufficient for the moment, but we'll open things up again when we're ready to do some server stress testing.
Lots of bugfixes and minor gameplay changes. Number of missions now displayed in /charinfo. New /updatestation command forces a station menu-system update in case one is needed (related to license mission problem). Fixed many player-stuck bugs, station update bugs, and a station crash. Kills/deaths now displayed correctly in Charact Select Panel (immediately after login).

Gameplay changes: There is now a significant faction hit for killing other players, and very large hit if you kill them in the territory of a faction where they are held in high esteem (like their home sectors). This has little impact on Serco vs Itani combat, as those factions already hate one another. Very low faction standing results in reduced item availability, worse prices, and eventually a Kill On Sight status with defense bots (and inability to dock at related stations).

Beginner Combat missions no longer give ever-increasing bonuses, and don't let you train above level 4.

Advanced Combat training missions should now work.

"Money Bug" temporarily worked around. You no longer get a discount based on faction / Commerce, instead you get better prices when selling items.

Mission messages are now actually /msg'd from the mission bot, so "tab" can be used to auto-reply.

Ion Blaster available at level 0.

Various bugfixes and the like.
Note: only single-player missions are currently available. Group missions are coming Soon(tm).
Major version update. This adds much of the game functionality that has been in development for the past few months:

Skills - There are currently four skills. Combat, Light Weapons,. Heavy Weapons and Commerce. Increasing these skills affects what Licenses can be acquired, what missions are available, the prices of items in stations (improved Commerce implies better price negotiation) and many other possible gameplay factors.

Missions - These can be taken only from stations at present (soon from NPCs as well). Missions can do nearly anything, and some are randomly generated when you request more "Info". Completing missions has monetary and skill-improvement rewards, as well as "Accomplishments", which can take a variety of forms and be used for further game-content availability (example: only people who complete the Ultra Cool mission can get the Elite Laser, or open up new mission progressions, or whatever).

Licenses - These are another factor that denote what equipment is available to the character. License levels appear periodically for a particular skill, at present. Once you reach a certain skill level, it's possible to "Test" for a license in that respective area of study. The tests are currently trivial.

Factions - The faction system is now implemented and basically functional, but will be in need of tweaking (along with everything else). Various factors can improve or reduce standing with a particular faction. The lowest level of faction standing implies Kill On Sight by members of that faction. The various higher levels can make available different types of equipment, missions, and/or improve prices for items.

Character Information Screen - Now bound to "k" by default. If someone is selected, it should bring up their character information (minus a few stats, like money and their actual skill levels). Otherwise, it should bring up your character information. Can also be accessed from the commandline with /charinfo . Without a character name specified, it brings up your information.


A lot of things are still going to be very broken. Expect plenty of bugs. Aside from that, the game is also lacking in content. We haven't added a lot of new ships and equipment yet, so we've made all the original content available based on a new character progression scheme (various skill and license levels). The numbers of skill/character progression are very temporary, as is everything about this release. Right now the numbers are a little difficult. So, in other words, expect to spend a lot of time flying around in a bus, for the moment. Note, all this gameplay stuff is very new and rough.. this is NOT indicative of the final game. We're still just making the basic features work.

A lot of things are missing that will be added "shortly". Various automated defense bots, additional mission types, the new chat system, etc etc. Some other things (the new Universe / Nav system) will appear in about a month.
Monday night proved to not be the night for 3.4. However, we're very optimistic about Tuesday evening.

In other news, ctishman / Ku Genin bought us pizza, to aid in our release-night efforts. Very nice of him, it was well appreciated. Pictured are (left-to-right) John, Andy, Ray and Waylon.
The network hosting the game server will have a scheduled maintenance outage tonight (Fri morning) at 1am CST, for roughly 5 minutes. Router reboot, nothing big. Game service will be interrupted briefly by this outage. Thanks.
The ISP hosting the game server is scheduling a maintenance outage for this evening (04/13) around midnight CST. It should not be very long in duration. It will only affect the game and not the website. Thanks.
Another not-terribly-informative In Progress update to let you all know that, yes, we're all still alive and things are going well :).
Have been caused by internet connectivity issues between our database server and game server, which are temporarily on different networks. This will be resolved when we migrate the database back locally to the game. In the meantime, sporadic problems make occur.
People noticed that the bots stopped working and a few other odd things took place. This basically happened because we accidentally released some newer code into the production server (which really wasn't ready for release). We're forking off a new internal branch now, to prevent this from happening again. Sorry for the instabilities. Things are back to semi-normal on a hybridized version of new and old code, so some strangeness may still persist. If anyone sees anything odd, or better yet, can reproduce it, please submit detailed bug reports.
The server has been debugged and tentatively deemed "stable". The issues had nothing to do with any specific user activity (flag caps, mines, or anything else). It was instead a rather a bizarre, sporadic memory allocation/deallocation issue. With the server now stable, we shouldn't need to run it under Valgrind any more, which will result in greatly improved server performance, reducing lag and the like. Thanks for your patience over the last couple of days. This bug was sporadic enough to never show up in our internal stress testing, and was a great demonstration of how the public Vendetta Test will make our final game much more stable.
The new server hardware install went well, and the new machine seems to be stable and fast. However, the Vendetta server code has been experiencing some instabilities, causing it to crash pretty often. Some of the problems have now been fixed (one being a bug in Linux, discovered after the OS switch), others are currently being tracked down. We're valgrinding the production server right now, and we expect to have the major issues sorted out shortly. Thanks for your patience.
The software was rolled out last night, the new server hardware install was delayed, and is going in tonight. A game outage may be experienced in the next 6 hours. Hopefully only a short one. Thanks.
Users may experience a game outage on the afternoon/evening (CST) of Thursday the 19th. We will be swapping the new server machine into production and also rolling out some new game-server code. The new server software re-implements improved packet prioritization based on various metrics. This will benefit everyone, but especially those on modem connections. The webserver and vendetta site will be unaffected by this outage.
Minor bugfix release. Fixed sector 9 docking problem, mine bug and added additional debugging data to help track down the continuing "invisibility" bug. Also changed a few old instances of "Team 1/2/3" to "Serco/Itani/..".
Good news, everyone. As of last Friday (Jan 30th) we received positive notification of an investment in our company. We've delayed announcing this for a week, to confirm the transfer of funds and give us a little time to inform our other prospective business partners. We're back in business, the office is now bustling with activity once again. With our current funding and schedule estimates, we'll be producing a saleable game from the "Vendetta Test" by summer. The sales and distribution model of the game is not yet finalized, but will be soon. We are in talks with publishers. We are still interested in additional funding, comarketing and publishing opportunities.

We much appreciate all the good wishes and support we've had from our userbase and extended community in the last couple of rough months. We're very excited to have the opportunity to make this game a success. Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you all hang around to see the final product.

- John Bergman
Guild Software, Inc.
This version adds physical impact to explosions. Your ship is not only damaged by nearby explosions, but impacted by the physical shockwave as well. This is a new feature, and the settings may require some tweaking. We've also added some debugging features to track down the "invisibility" bug. Some bugs in the collision/damage code have also been fixed, energy weapon damage should now properly be applied regionally.

The network code improvements did not make it into this release.
By invoking the magic of credit cards, we now have new game server hardware en route. We hope that this, along with some other changes in the works, will enable us to bring Vendetta to market as a saleable product. You can read about this and other developments in the newly-updated In Progress section.
The website was down again this morning. One of our ISP's routers died at roughly 5am. They fixed the problem, but someone forgot to advertise our route until now. Oh well.

Once again, the game server was not affected by this outage.
Vendetta Test 3.3.18 simply fixes some bugs introduced in 3.3.17, such as crashing upon flag capture and being unable to use buy-back on EC-88s.

Database replication from our Web server to our game server was interrupted sometime within the last couple days, resulting in the game server being out of sync on new accounts.

Therefore, if you have created a new account within the last few days, and you can't log into the game, please re-create your account with a new username.

This version adds a destroyable version of a capital ship back into Sector 16. This ship is equipped with defensive turrets, and respawns between 20 and 35 minutes after death. Turrets are individually destroyable, but much of the capital/turret system is still in development, and some things aren't quite functional (explosions don't damage the capital ship unless they're near the centerpoint of the ship). A few crash bugs were also addressed. The spatial partitioning network optimizations are still in progress, so modem users may continue to experience less than ideal performance until we complete the implementation.
Our servers at the office (email, web, etc) were down for the last 24 hours, due to the power connector on our fiber tranceiver being bumped out of the socket (on the upstream end in our ISP's facility). It's now tied down better and this shouldn't happen again. The game server was unaffected by this outage.
Mostly bugfixes, some small changes. Some crashes fixed. Chat filter issue now fixed. Guides can now ban once again. Guides can unmute a user even if they aren't online. Packet fragmentation cleaned up better. Additional OpenGL info logging under Linux. Group HUD info fixes. More error checking added for buy-back feature. Multiple chat lines now indented. Added /hudmode command to toggle display of grouped players or your character's ship. Group members are now white on radar. Bots no longer receive double damage (long standing bug). Additional data logging made possible for packet priority tuning. Additional debugging to track down recent "invisibility" bug and "stuck during warp" bug. Other minor changes and fixes.
Changes to server code, bugfixes, sporadic improvements. Most significantly, this version adds grouped play and the ability to see the health of your selected target. Grouped play can be accessed using the "/group" command at the console. Creating a group allows you to invite other players. All members of a group who are located in the same sector can see one another's health. Groups are temporary and do not persist across logoff. Eventually, groups are intended to permit you to gain team bonuses (when killing enemies, taking missions and the like).
As many of you have noticed, we haven't been terribly forthcoming with our plans for the future, of late. This has been, in large part, because we haven't been sure if there was going to *be* much of a future for our company or our game. Some of you are aware that I personally have funded the company from its inception. I didn't have a huge amount of money to begin with, so we've learned to stretch our finances pretty far. We've survived for several years, building the game you've seen and looking for a publisher to fund us to completion. As of the beginning of this month, however, I am beyond broke. Ray and Waylon ceased to be paid their minimal-survival salaries at the beginning of the month. Ray has been looking for jobs, Waylon moved his computer home to save on gas and food costs. We've scrounged enough to keep the office for a short period of time, but our outlook is somewhat grim. There have been hopeful possibilities with publishers and the like, but none have panned out, and things have gotten to a pretty bad state for us.

Anyway, it was time to give you, our userbase, a heads-up about this. We aren't dead yet, but we may be soon. The game servers will not be going down immediately, but I'm not going to comment further on the post-demise possibilities for the game at the moment. That eventuality is still a little.. painful, at present.

Our thanks to everyone. OEMs have been very supportive. Matrox, ATI, Nvidia and Apple have all been wonderful to us. Websites like GameSpy, Penny Arcade, Inside Mac Games, Happy Penguin, FreshMeat and Linux Games have all helped us get the word out. Without them we would not have the great base of users that has evolved.

And as for our users, we thank you all for your encouragement and good will over the period of the Vendetta Test. Some of you even asked that we make donations possible, and have since made generous monetary contributions. People have offered to help us host the game, send us hardware, given us their time and ideas, all in the interest that our game might succeed. We are eternally grateful. It has been wonderful to experience so many people being so excited about our project. It's not been easy for any of us here, living on faith and laboring towards an uncertain future. But having a base of people so genuinely thrilled about our creation-in-progress has really made things a lot more positive. I.. wish we could have more fully delivered on all your hopes, as well as our own.

We will be talking with our families, considering our options, and meeting next monday to further decide the fate of our company. Until then, I remain,

John "Incarnate" Bergman
Managing Director
Guild Software, Inc.

The version of the Test adds the new manual to the client, along with a number of minor changes and bugfixes. A progress bar has been added to the sector loading screen. PRMs for AI pathing have been regenerated in some sectors, which should alleviate the AI-suicide issues people had noticed. Fixed a bug relating to creating multiple characters in a row. AI NPCDEF logic has been improved. Sector 9 station renamed from "TGP" to "TPG" (the correct acronym). New debugging code, including a warning about TeamIDs not matching. The Mac version can temporarily only do 60hz refresh rate, and uses the desktop bitdepth instead of the depth set in Video options, this is an attempt to work around an apparent non-standard-compliant issue in Apple OpenGL. Flagcap bonuses have changed to 500k given only to the person who captures the flag, it's up to the person who captures to hand out money to those who aided. Mac Bug Reporter has been fixed again. The Mac now renders the "Special" ships properly with Pixel Shaders.

New bug: due to an attempted workaround for the Mac shaders issue, a new problem has been created. If rglow is set to 1, the starfield background will disappear and the "glow" texture will show in the lower left corner. This can be solved by temporarily disabling rglow with "/set rglow 0" at the console. This issue will be addressed shortly.
Lots of bugfixes relating to the new server and other issues.
The online Vendetta Manual has been updated. Much thanks to the users who helped bring it up to date and rewrite some sections. We have also included a new "Appendix", which describes the Galatic Trade Standard language and a more up-to-date list of console commands.

A new version of The Vendetta Test, featuring the updated manual and a few new bugfixes, will be forthcoming shortly.
People on dialup may be experiencing more "network lag" than in previous versions that used the old server code. The new server isn't as network-optimized as the old one yet, we're still focusing just on stability and major architecture issues at the moment. We'll be improving network performance after we feel things are pretty solid. Thanks for your patience.
Stats, inventories and money have been reset. The dynamic economy has been reset and we'll see how it works with the current numbers. We also did a user purge, users who hadn't played in 6 months, or who had accounts but had never actually played the game in longer than a month were deleted. By this metric, we have about 5,000-odd "active" users at present.

The server still has some issues, but we deemed it stable enough to do the reset. We'll be continuing to fix things as we go along.
We've several releases this week, without the normal notification process, to try and address the new server issues as quickly as possible. We're still working on this, and there are some nasty server problems still outstanding. The most prominent perhaps being the "lag" or jumpyness that shows up after the server has been running for awhile. Please bear with us, we'll straighten this out as soon as we can, and proceed with the economic / inventory reset. Thanks.
Major version update, including a complete rewrite of our core "server daemon" packet router. Lots of "behind the scenes" stuff, less noticable in-game changes.

Dynamic economy has been tweaked a bit and hopefully has baseboard functionality. It needs several other factors (NPC traders, mission system, etc) before it will achieve the level of functionality we want, but it will hopefully work for the moment. We expect the numbers to need some tweaking.

Updated sectors, new stations in Nation sectors of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12. New "sun" graphics. New "racetrack" sectors off of sector 7. The racetracks will record your best time until you leave the sector. (racetracks are not part of our designed game intentions, just something silly and fun we threw together, we hope it's entertaining).

New weapon: the Flechette Canon, a gatling-like weapon that can be equipped on small ports. Balancing will probably still be required.

New sounds: Gatling and Fletchette sounds have been altered or added. Further changes can be expected here, these effects are not finished. New sound for the Gauss canon. Also, Waylon made a buzzing noise for signs (yes, it's a bit loud, we'll fix it).

Music: Temporary ambient music installed (which John/"Incarnate" wrote this week, I'll replace it with something better as soon as I.. write something better). It can be disabled in the Audio Options by turning down the background music slider to "mute". Or, in-game you in use "/stopmusic" (or, optionally, if you want it to play continuously, "/playmusic ambient7.ogg").

One-way forcefields now present on launch bays. Launch animation now functions properly. "/say_sector" command added to chat only with people in your own sector. The "/msg" command can now be aliased.

New Server: this is pretty big, for us. Among other things, this should permanently solve all "money-bug" and related database synchronization exploits. It should also make this aspect of the game much easier for us to modify as we move forward. The server is all new code, and as such it's crashing relatively often. Please bear with us, we hope to nail down most of the major bugs over this weekend. Once it's fairly bug-free, we can move forward with the economic/inventory Reset (early next week, we hope).
Lots of Bugfixes:
Fixed Updater crash on exit.
Windows OpenGL crash (hardware pbuffer) issue fixed.
Vendetta now catches buggy DirectX drivers crashing on init.
Fixed possible chat fragmentation / recombining problem.
Fixed issue with persistent station menu while flying.
Improved collision detection.
Fixed launchbay forcefield animation problem.
Fixed crashes from out-of-range config.ini values.
Added rendering fallbacks for improved compatability.
Fixed ABR_vbo index buffer issue (crash on Radeon 7200 in Windows OpenGL).
Fixed other vbo bugs.
Fixed rendering artifact with non-pixel-shader cards and 2uv objects with less than 10 vertices.
"/query video" now returns DirectX 8.1 instead of DirectX 8.
Fixed automatic setting of "ps_hack" option on Radeon 7200 cards.
Fixed 2d radar blip issue on Radeon 7200, Voodoo3 and others.
Fixed POVhat joystick bug on the mac. (Up/Right were incorrectly triggering Down).
Backgrounds now generated more efficiently (fixes problems on the mac).
Issue with pointsprite stars showing up as white boxes on Extremely High background settings should now be fixed.
Misc other videocard fixes and mac texture fixes.

As always, please report any crashes or bugs you find, via the bug reporter or the web bug-form, and feel free to bring issues to out attention on the messageboard. Again, thanks for bearing with us on the server instabilities, we should have them straightened out pretty soon.

Specifically, regarding videocard issues and the like, if you reported a bug previously that is still occuring in 3.3.6, please report it again. We made so many fixes to various video/driver code that it's tough for us to tell whether we fixed everything or not (especially since many of the problems are difficult for us to reproduce). So if you're still experiencing problems, continue to let us know. Thanks.
Note: some problems loading textures have been noticed under OpenGL with ATI cards. We aren't sure why this is happening. Causing the textures to reload (changing resolution, etc) seems to fix the problem. If you notice you have strange, white asteroids, this is worth a try. FYI.

Please continue to report this issue or any others, despite our awareness of the problem. Hopefully the reports will give us a better idea of how widespread the bug is, or if only specific hardware or drivers are affected. Thanks.
Bugfix and content release. The Server is still in process and unfinished, so the inventory reset has been delayed. In the meantime, however, you can see the various new stations and other content we've added to the game. Changes can be found in sectors 5, 7, 9, 14, 15 and 18. All the added stations use the new "modular component" architecture. Advertising for various in-game shops and companies has been added, using a new language designed for the game (information on the language will be available in due course).

New Sounds. A new sound effect has been added for the Gatling Gun and Advanced Gatling Turret. This is not the final sound effect, but at least adds some variety until the final version is completed. The default weapon noise has been filtered to (hopefully) be a little less grating. The turbo noise has had its bass reduced due to excessive complaints of rattling windows and frightened pets.

Bugfixes. The ATI bug should now be fixed, allowing Mac users of the Radeon 9000-9800 series cards to play the game once again (and re-enable doshaders and dovertexbuffers for those who had used that workaround). Additionally, according to ATI the bug is not present in their Panther driver. ATI will be releasing a new driver for 10.2.x which will also implement the fix for those OS versions. For the moment, however, we seem to have worked around the bug sufficiently to make the game playable on all versions of OS X. Thanks to ATI for working with us to address this issue.

Collision detection has been improved a little. The "32 character name" bug has been fixed. A sprite rendering bug has been addressed. HUD elements are now always filtered unless Point filtering is selected. The media.rlb format has been changed and the jpeg textures stripped of comment data and thumbnails (ugh: Photoshop) to save a few megs from the release distribution. Because of the changes to the jpegs, the new stations, advertising, etc.. this version requires about a 14mb download. On the other hand, the overall size of the game has been decreased.

Please continue to report any bugs you discover. Thanks, and enjoy!
In an effort to bring the Vendetta-related websites created by our community to the attention of our players, we've created the new "Community Sites" area on the Vendetta Test website. This will replace the sites listing previously buried in the Frequently Asked Questions.

However, since our list of sites is very much out of date, we're requesting that people re-submit their Vendetta websites via email to Please include a description of your site, its intended purpose and the like. This new site listing will be actively maintained, hopefully fostering the supportive Vendetta Test community. Thanks.
The server code is not completed, and the new release featuring the dynamic economy has been pushed back. Details will be posted on In Progress this coming monday.

Despite this delay, some minor server-side gameplay changes have been put into effect. This includes:

Vulture increased from 8000 to 8500hp
Centaur increased from 14000 to 16000hp and 14 to 16 cargo
Ragnarok increased from 14000 to 16000hp
Railgun damage increased from 1100 to 1400
Sunflare firing rate decreased from 2/second to 1/second
Avalons temporarily removed
Special Nation Ship cost increased to 30k

Thanks for bearing with us.
Bugfix release. Addressed issue that caused characters to get stuck when dying after user timeout. Fixed "invisible station" problem with bumpmapping turned off. Further fixed chat spamming issues. Addressed server-side bug that allowed characters to get stuck when partially logged in. Fixed sector crash related to previous issue and flag captures. Illumination maps are now applied to LOD objects in DirectX (shader changes not yet fully implemented under OpenGL). The Vendetta window can now be moved around when in Window mode under OS X. (Note: moving the window to other desktops on multihead machines is untested and may crash). Some speed enhancements added for DirectX. "/toggleframerategraph" is now logarithmic from 1fps (bottom) to 1000fps (top). Some minor graphical changes and additions.

In Progress updated on monday.
Newspost was delayed while we gathered some info on bugs.

Vendetta Test 3.3.3 most obviously adds the new Sector 9 station into the game. Adding the new station was mostly for the purpose of performance and bug testing, rather than the station having much of a "purpose" as of yet. We made a lot of minor shader and engine changes to add the new station, and we weren't sure what sort of impact this would have. We've discovered a number of issues because of this, thanks for bearing with us while we track them down.

Other changes and additions:

Added the "Rage128 Color Hack" option in Mac OpenGL Video Settings. This should be enabled only on Rage128s, and disabled elsewhere for a performance increase on non-Rage128s.

Users are limited to sending chat messages no more than 4 times per second (to prevent flooding attempts).

Users are limited to giving money no more than once per second (preventing flooding).

Reworked Vertex Buffer code for OpenGL, should result in a slight performance increase.

Antialiasing can now be properly enabled for 2x, 4x and 6x modes in DirectX.

Changing texture filtering modes now occurs immediately, instead of requiring the game to be re-run.

Progressive Meshes are now only affected by the Distance LOD settings, static LOD objects now only use Scene LOD.

Players can no longer home in enemy stations, timeout exploit also addressed.

Multiple stations now supported per sector.

AI Bots should now target mines.

Performance Issues on Mac OS X with ATI Radeon 9800 cards, etc:
There appears to be a serious memory leak and several other problems with ATI's latest OS X drivers (available on their website), when used with the Radeon 9800. It may also affect other DX9-capable cards (9700, 9600, etc), but does not appear to affect the Radeon 8500 or earlier boards. Again, this is an issue with the latest drivers, we aren't sure if it exists in the earlier drivers which ship with OS X. We reported the bug to ATI earlier this week and have been working with their Mac driver developers to resolve the issue. We do not have an ETA from them, for the moment the only workaround we can suggest is disabling shader support in Vendetta. This requires editing the "config.ini" located in the package/directory, and changing




It's unfortunate and ironic that this very performance-degrading bug should appear on the latest and greatest (and fastest) hardware. But, it's not entirely surprising, given that heavily Shader-laden games are still pretty scarce on the Mac (or any platform, for that matter), so bugs are bound to be exposed by products that attempt to use newer graphical features.

As always, please continue to report bugs as you find them, even if you know the bug has been previously reported. The more information we have the better.
Please submit any existing bugs, as of the current 3.3.2 release, via the web bug reporting form. If you know they've already been reported, report them anyway. Again. We want to make absolutely sure we get the money issues straightened out. Thanks.
Vendetta Test 3.3.0 was released on Saturday evening, marking the first production use of our new server-side code. Server load has been decreased dramatically (it's now roughly 1/10th of the 3.2.x server load). The new Lua 5 sector daemon framework allows us a great deal more power in how we choose to design and alter the game from this point forward, and we're excited about the possibilities. Gameplay changes from 3.2.x are minimal, bots are slightly smarter, etc. These initial releases in the 3.3.x tree are all about testing the stability of the new back-end code, before moving forward with gameplay development.

Vendetta Test 3.3.1 fixes a number of the bugs that cropped up in 3.3.0. This includes the "black screen of docking" and, as far as we are aware, all of the money exploits. If you find any money exploits, please report them. We want to restore the stability and integrity of the economy before we try and improve things. The endquote private-message bug is also fixed, but doing so introduced a new bug, which was then fixed in 3.3.2 (released a few minutes later).

As always, please report any bugs that you find. Via the automated bug reporter program, the web submission form, or the messageboard. The faster we get the 3.3.x codebase stabilized, the sooner we can move forward with the new gameplay features we all want to see.

Watch the In Progress page for news on future versions of Vendetta.
The Vendetta Test Work In Progress has been updated to include some information on the new stations in development.
Bugfix release. Added the do_extensions and do_env_combine parameters to the config.ini, to selectively disable the env_combine OpenGL extension, or all extensions entirely. Fixed a number of server bugs and crashes. Fixed an OpenGL bug causing crashes with Voodoo drivers in Linux. Fixed station/ship buyback bug. Possibly fixed docking-while-dying bug. Changed font so some characters don't look quite so similar. Joysticks that have over 32 buttons will only use the first 32 (temporary). Other minor changes and fixes.
Our old ISP was shutting down on very short notice, hence the scramble. We now have some new fiber pulled from our 1st floor office to a friend on the 4th floor, who is providing us with some low-cost bandwidth. We've fully migrated and renumbered, although there's still some incorrect DNS in effect from our old ISP. This will be fixed in the next few days.

Database replication between the office and the game server is not yet back in action, so the Vendetta webpage stats are not yet functional (active players and the like). This will be addressed shortly.
Fixed the chat "backtick" bug. New character names are now more strictly checked (swearwords, "NPCDEF" and the like). Chat messages can now be entered 160 characters at a time instead of 80. Other miscellanious bug fixes.
Some users in the UK, using the recently-allocated 82/8 address block (82.x.x.x) have been complaining of connection problems to the game. This should now be fixed. Because this block of IPs was only utilized recently, it was still present in some ISPs "unallocated IPs" route filter list. This list has been now been updated.
Friday the 11th was the date we tentatively set for the new event system to be completed and release. Unfortunately, once we got into it further, it became apparent how much more work needed to be done to design and build it the Right Way. Thus, we're going to spend the time to do it that way, as this is a pretty fundamental part of all future gameplay additions. The In Progress page will be updated with a revised schedule later this week. The delay should not be very long.

Other minor gameplay changes may happen in the short term, however. Weapon / economy / sector changes, and the like. Stay tuned.
Bugfixes and AI improvements. Turrets now return to their home positions. AI pathfinding has been redone, again, and should be improved (no more NPCs stuck in docking bays). It is no longer possible for a character to collide with same-team mines, only with their own layed mines or the mines of enemies. The "glow" effect no longer appears on the "Billboards" in sector 9. Other minor changes.
Bugfixes and AI changes. Fixed the station "stutter" bug. Other bugs, solved some AI problems.

Defense ships are now present in sectors 1, 2, and 3. "Defense" and "Heavy" ships now present, Defenseships (Vultures) have upgraded weapons and engines, Heavy ships (Warthogs) fire sunflare rockets and use upgraded engines. Flag captures have been reset. Capturing a flag now yields 1,000,000 (million) credits for every online character of the team that succeeds. A recovered (returned) flag yields 5000c to the team.

Please continue to report any bugs, problems, or strange game behaviour. Thanks.
Bugfix release with some AI changes and other improvements. Some OpenGL crashes addressed, especially on Mac and Linux. Explosions and wormhole effects no longer render if the user is docked in a station (you won't emerge to see 50 effects happening at once anymore). Weapon/Cargo inventory HUD element rescales correctly. Wordwrapping bug fixed. EMBM ice chunks under DirectX are now properly mipmapped. Video drivers now save initial settings out to config.ini on loadup rather than exit, so if the game crashes, the default settings should still be present in the file. Added the flag:


To [refgl] in the config.ini, one more thing to try disabling (set to 0) to prevent crashes. Misc minor speed optimizations added.

Explosions now sympathetically detonate mines. AI DefenseShips now present in 4/6/12, patrolling and attacking pilots of other Nations. DefenseShips not yet present in 1/2/3, but will be added soon (see below). Turrets are now a more formidable threat. AI should generally be improved, but is still not yet up to par.

The AI and pathfinding systems are still in development, a new iteration should be going into production on Friday. This would include DefenseShip improvements and the like. This will probably be a server-only change, no client-side updates are anticipated.

As always, please report any bugs, crashes or other weird behaviour. Thanks much, and enjoy.
Please continue to submit crash reports when they occurr. If the bug reporter does not start up from the crash, submit via the web interface or post to the messageboard. We're still having trouble isolating and tracking down the seemingly Nvidia-specific crashes affecting Mac and Linux users. Reporting the bugs is useful, even if we already have the information from other users, as the number of reports gives us an idea of how widespread the problem is, or whether it's still occurring.

So, although we may know about a crash, and on these driver-related issues we may not have an immediate fix, keep the reports coming. The more data we have, the clearer the picture becomes, and the faster we can locate and fix the problem (or bring it to the attention of the OEM who needs to fix it). Thanks for testing, as always.
Bugfix release with minor gameplay tweaks. Setting autoaim off does not reset on sector jumps. Fixed +turbo exploit. Fixed directX bug that may have caused shaders to not be visible on systems that supported them. User Select Panel (default: "u") will now close properly with the first key bound to that function. More error checking added for shaders. Removed /setdamage command. Fixed shader issues on the Mac. Fixed ARB_vertex_program problem that affected older cards (TNT2, Rage128 and the like). Fixed ARB_fragment_program bug.

Gameplay changes:

The ship HUD inventory display is now enabled by default (default key: "o").

Valkyrie hitpoints reduced from 12000 to 10000.

Hornet's maneuverability improved slightly.

Linux and MacOS X users, if you experience crashes, especially with Nvidia hardware, try the following:

Locate and edit your config.ini (in the on OS X). Find the [refgl] section of the config file and set the "doshaders" and "dovertexbuffers" parameters to zero. The game will need to have been run once and exited cleanly (without crashing) for these parameters to have been added by 3.2.7. The parameters may also be added manually. Toggling these settings will disable some of the advanced graphics features, added in 3.2.6, which are enabled by default. As far as we can tell, some people may be experiencing crashes with these features, possibly due to a Nvidia driver bug. More debugging is required, but hopefully people will be able to get the game to function, for the moment, by using this workaround.
If a config.ini file does not exist, you can create it as a text file and add these three lines:

This version adds Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader support to OpenGL (assuming hardware support is present), as well improving AI pathfinding and some game balance changes. Damage effects are now present, below 50% damage ships will begin to smoke or exhibit flames. These effects still need a lot of tweaking, but the basics are now there. Wormhole effect improved. Mac joysticks now auto-calibrate. Crashes related to chat messages fixed. Pixel shader effects (such as "rglow") now default to ON. When cargo is purchased it is auto-loaded to your active ship. Cargo now has a "glow" (a sprite effect, no pixel shaders required), to aid in visibility. Some ships have been rebalanced:

Wraith - Improved maneuverability. Cargo increased from 6 to 8.
Vulture - Improved maneuverability.
Warthog - HP increased from 8000 to 9000. Improved maneuverability, Cargo increased from 3 to 4.
Prometheus - HP reduced from 28000 to 18000. Maneuverability decreased. Cargo increased from 10 to 12.
Valkyrie - Cargo reduced from 6 to 4.
Marauder - HP reduced from 18000 to 14000.

The changes in maneuverability are not huge, but not insignificant. The amount of change depends somewhat on the design of the ship (distribution of mass). All these numbers are still open to tweaking, of course, but hopefully people will find the net effect to be positive. No other game balance changes at this time.

Linux users with GeForceFX, Radeon 9800, or other ARB_fragment_program hardware may notice rendering artifacts. We recommend they "/set rglow off". We are still waiting for our DX9 boards from ATI and Nvidia, and much of the ARB_fragment_program code is still untested.
We're pushing 3.2.6 back until next week. The AI development is something of a research project on its own, and the new pathfinding isn't up to par yet. The OpenGL shader support is working well on the Mac, but is still uncertain on Linux, and also needs to be tested on older Mac hardware before we can even have any certainty of basic functionality. Too many things are unfinished, slightly broken, or fundamentally untested for it to make sense for us to release in the short term.. even for a Test game. Some of the graphical changes we had planned for this release (damage effects and such) are also going well, but won't be up to snuff by tomorrow. Thus, we're going to delay it a little, spend some time making the AI a bit smarter and everything else a little more solid, and hopefully bring you a better build next week. Sorry to disappoint.
The main Guild Software website has been updated, with new screenshots available here:
Vendetta Test 3.2.4 expanded the universe by 3 more hidden sectors (one of which featuring an AI capital ship), introduced a number of advanced shader features under DirectX, and fixed a number of bugs.

Vendetta Test 3.2.5 attempts to address the server bug which has resulted in a lack of sound in some sectors. Also, fixed shader-related crashes. Fixed "glow" shader effect for Matrox Surround Gaming mode. Fixed some Geforce3 related crashes. Changed text height slightly. Added the ability to toggle autoaim: "/set autoaim 0" to disable or set to 1 to enable. Some changes made to the Blasters and a few other weapons. Rockets are now back to their intended speed. Other minor changes and fixes.

Please continue to submit detailed bug reports on any issues that arise. The more reports submitted, the more information we have, the quicker we can locate and solve the problem. Redundant reports are not a bad thing, just make sure the bug is reported. Thanks.
This version adds a number of server fixes, optimizations, and minor gameplay changes. Secondary / tertiary can no longer be used while invulnerable (station exploit). Joystick axes now retain their bindings when set to "none". General network optimizations. Some rendering optimizations. HUD cargo display now creates the correctly sized HUD element. Negative damage issue fixed. Server "1 minute lag" problem and other server issues fixed. Controls panel tabs improved. Added support for Matrox Parhelia "Surround Gaming Mode" (triple-head). Improved bot behaviour for sectors 8 and 10, bots are less likely to cluster at wormholes awaiting victims.
The Linux version has been re-linked against glibc 2.2.5. If you were having trouble running Vendetta 3.2.2 (but 3.2.1 worked), it should now be fixed. If your updater doesn't start, please rm ~/.vendetta/update.rlb and try again.
Robot/AI behaviour changes and game balancing. NPCs now drop cargo. Behaviour in sectors 4/6/12 is now better suited to newbies. Uncharted sector 15 has been connected. It is no longer possible to shoot while invulnerable (leaving a station or wormhole). Avalon Torpedo's proximity trigger greatly reduced (80m to 10m). Sunflare rocket capacity increased to 16. Railgun now requires 110 energy, but damage is reduced to 1100. Economy changed slightly, trading income is increased, mostly for the cheaper cargo. Server performance improvements, other minor changes and fixes.
Bugfix and game balancing release. The "re-buying ship" crash has been fixed. The blue Valkyrie has had its hull reduced from 18000 to 12000. The railgun now requires 200 energy per shot. Upper docking bays on the Nation stations fixed. Wireframe mode disabled. Cargo prices have been tweaked, the lower-value items are now more profitable on short distance trading runs. The NPC ships have been improved, with 3 levels of difficulty now appearing throughout the universe. NPC bounties are now more worthwhile. Some NPC ships are limited to particular regions in certain sectors (such as Nation sectors, for newbie hunting purposes). Other sectors are now much more dangerous. Server-side load has been reduced and further optimized. Some other minor fixes and changes.
If you can't seem to use your character after upgrading to 3.2.0, delete the character and re-create. All character inventories were wiped in this version change, but character positions were not reset to their respective nations. This resulted in some characters being stranded in space without a ship. As all stats were similarly wiped, deleting and re-creating has no ill effects.
The long-awaited 3.2.0 has finally arrived, bringing a number of significant changes with it.

What's good:

  • The universe has been expanded to 13 charted sectors. Each Nation now has 2 sectors, their home sector and an outlying sector intended to become a "newbie zone". Uncharted sectors also exist (not marked on the map or the HUD), and a few more will be added. These locales may be more dangerous but potentially rewarding. NPCs may drop hints to their locations at some point down the line.
  • The ships have been completely reconfigured. Each Nation has a single ship available only to that nation. All other ships are available to all nations.
  • Weapons configurability has been greatly expanded. Weapons now exist either as "Small" or "Large" addons, which may be configured into "Small" or "Large" addon ports. Weapon firing group configuration allows any or all combinations of these weapons to be triggered simultaneously or grouped in a variety of ways.
  • The AI system has been completely revamped, allowing a lot of new gameplay potential, some of which will be demonstrated in the coming weeks.
  • New trade items, new weapons. Large and small, from the free government-issue Plasma Cannon on the EC88, to the massive blast of the Avalon Torpedo.
  • Other small changes: wormhole areas are increased in size. Flags carried to maximum limit of 8000m from the origin will respawn at a random location in the sector, instead of being dropped. Many other minor changes, optimizations and improvements.
What's not so good:

  • The whole game is hideously unbalanced. Prices, weapon damage, ship hitpoints, item availability.. all need to be tweaked. The current game is a basic starting point, over the next couple of weeks these things will be ironed out. We chose to release the game in this state and get user input on the issues, rather than delay release and do this in-house. So don't get too attached to anything just yet, it's all in flux.
  • The station menu interface is unintuitive and complicated, some tasks are repetitive and annoying. We know. The basic functionality we need is present. The entire UI will be getting a complete revamp a little further down the line, when more of the long-term features are added.
  • The new AI system is in place, but the AI isn't quite what we want yet. Only the basic enemies are available, and they're far too difficult for most new players. This will be adjusted and improved upon in the coming weeks. Expect a variety of NPC pilots populating different sectors. Some areas may become much more dangerous.
  • Major lack of new sound effects. Weapons all sound the same, some explosions have no sound at all. This will be addressed in due course.
  • Some bugs and crashes still exist. New ones are likely to pop up from this release. Please report all problems and submit all automated crash-reports. Make use of the web bug-report form and messageboard.
A new version of the web CGI brings added features to the messageboard and other sections of the site. Users may need to restart their browsers in order to access the new site properly.
3.1.14 fixes a number of issues. Linux sound and no-permission to /dev/dsp crashes were fixed. Sound volume ramping added to new soundsystem (should reduce clicks). DirectSound support added to Windows. Fixed "white textures" bug when game was minimized in win32. Station menu panels are now much faster, thanks to those textures being precached. Added shortcuts 1/2/3/4 for Buy/Sell/Repair/Ammo station menu tabs. Fixed bug with buying back free EC88 ship. A free EC88 cannot be bought back with non-free weapons. Fixed bug that permitted people to buy ships that weren't available to their team. Fixed bug where you could activate a wormhole without full energy. Server packet prioritization optimizations should improve latent and low-bandwidth connections.

3.1.15 now properly renders the flag hull for a ship carrying the flag. Bumpmapped asteroids now have more correct lighting with respect to their orientation and the lightsource.
The main products page has been updated with more information, available here.

We've also hit the current Test user limit. We will shortly be purging accounts that were created more than 30 days ago, but were never used to actually log into the game. We'll also be pushing back the user limit. To any new signups who have been turned away, try back tomorrow.
This version adds the bulk of the new soundsystem. Some popping, crackling and problems still remain, but the major aspects of the system are now functional. Ogg Vorbis compression is implemented. No music is present yet, but streaming OV-encoded music can be played with the /playmusic and /stopmusic console commands. m3u playlists are also supported with the /playlist command.

It's now possible to re-purchase your last configured ship after dying. Full energy is required to open a wormhole, and the act of doing so will deplete your ship's energy. Invulnerability has been extended an extra 3 seconds after wormhole emergence. Other small changes and fixes.
The Vendetta Test game server is scheduled for a small hardware upgrade this evening, between 6 and 10pm CST. The game will be down during the period of the upgrade, hopefully for not more than a few minutes. The Vendetta 3.1.13 update release will commence once the server is back online and determined to be stable.
Corrects a number of the issues that cropped up in the earlier releases this past weekend. Mass-purchasing is now limited to 16 units.

As always, please continue to report bugs as they crop up. Don't assume that they've already been reported, send in reports for any crashes or problems that appear. The number and variety of reports can help us track down problems that affect specific hardware or platforms, as well as giving us an idea of how widespread or frequently an issue is appearing.
This version fixes rendering issues with the i810 and other integrated video chipsets. Tab completion, variable buy/sell quantities, an optional chat filter and some speed optimizations were also added.

The game also now features a logoff timer. Once the /logoff command is issued from the commandline (or Exiting with the menu), the game will count down 10 seconds until logging the player off. Any variations in acceleration will abort the logoff. Turning the ship (in physics mode) will not abort the logoff. However, it is possible that joysticks with jittery or un-calibrated throttles may cause an unintentional logoff abort. Exiting the game while docked at a station is instant. If a user exits from space, he will respawn in his last known position in space. If a user is disconnected while in space, without going through the logoff procedure, the user's ship will continue on its last trajectory for 1 minute before timing out.

Outstanding issues: Some users may appear with gray vessels and bounties/scores of 99999. Capacities are not checked on volume purchases, allowing excessive (and useless) amounts of addons and cargo to be purchased.
Our hearts go out to the friends and families of those true space explorers who gave their lives today.

- Guild Software, Inc.

Bugfix release, this version clears up a number of the Updater bugs that cropped up after the last release. Plus, fixes are now present for the "having issues" bug, the weapon damage is now back to where it should be, the /explode command works properly once again (and can no longer be used to exploit flag holding), AI robots are the correct color, plus a number of other crashes/problems have been addressed.
If you're using Windows 98 or Windows Me, and your updater isn't able to connect, please download and run this new updater to correct the issue.
New version has arrived, complete with a new updater and some other graphical enhancements and bugfixes. The new Updater should properly recover from aborted downloads, allowing people on modems to have an easier time installing and updating the game.

The new background renderer system is in place, with new, highly detailed backgrounds for all the systems. People may need to play with their Visual Quality settings, and other Video/Graphics options, to obtain the balance of speed and quality that they desire. The new background renderer gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility for adding new sectors with unique backgrounds. However, at present, on the lower detail settings (Off/Low/Medium/High) look a little worse than the old backgrounds (edges of planets are jagged). Very High background detail and above will display the new 3D-object planets. Extremely high uses detailed sprites for many of the stars, and will result on a heavy framerate hit on all but the fastest systems.

Some Win32/DirectX users may find themselves starting in OpenGL after they update. We aren't sure what causes this, but exiting from the game and re-running seems to solve the problem and allow the DirectX driver to be reselected (in Options -> Video -> Change Driver).

A number of other bugs have been fixed. The "invisible missile" problem has been solved. Etc.
New version fixes several crashes, memory leaks, and other bugs. Wormhole indicators have now been changed to a HUD reticle (further work will go into this, to make it more configurable and less distracting). Environment mapped bumpmapped objects (ice) are visually improved. Homing missiles are now more network-efficient, which should help with "swarm lag". Many other changes to the engine and back-end that are not yet apparent, but bring 3.2.0 that much closer.

One minor bug slipped past our testing: the EC-88 damage indicator on the HUD displays the wrong ship.
This release does not introduce any major features, but does help address a number of problems. A number of optimizations were made to both the client and server, which should improve performance when large numbers of players are present, permitting us to serve more users with less server hardware. Several database issues have been resolved, but some still remain. The "/ping" command is now available at the console, displaying the min, max, and average ping to the server. The flag is now automatically dropped if carried too far from the center of the sector. Some support for foreign keyboards has been added (please test and give feedback on the messageboard). Many bugs fixed, other minor changes.

The potential for some inventory loss, when changing sectors, still remains. This will be addressed in the next version.
This version adds much of the functionality planned for 3.2. It is now possible for characters to own multiple ships. Additionally, there are now two new ships, a "free" vessel available to those without finances, and the "Prometheus", a heavy class ship of the Red Nation. AI robots are now present in more sectors, including defensive bots in the Nation's home sectors. A new weapon has been added, the "heat seeker" missiles, which are considerably faster than normal homing missiles, but can lose their lock if their target leaves their field of view (180 degrees).

The invulnerability bug should now finally be fixed. The negative/extreme money bug has also been fixed. The key to open the console is now completely controlled by the bind menu. Other bugs, fixes, and miscellanious improvements.
Vendetta Test 3.1.5 will now be due on Monday the 25th. A last-minute major bug cropped up that prevented it from being released this evening.
Olaf from has cooked up some cool Vendetta desktop backgrounds, available at his site:

These alternate versions are also available:
This version primarily addresses the "invulnerability bug" that was exploited in 3.1.0. This issue should now be fixed.

Additionally, the AI pilots in sector 8 are now considerably better than before, but are temporarily using the player ship models (light blue/red/gold fighters). All AI robots have been improved, but it's less noticable on those using the original robot ship. Players now spawn in stations, and do not auto-launch. Mousewheel support has been added for Linux. The console access key can now be bound to whatever key is desired (and still defaults to ~ tilde). Several other minor bugfixes and problems solved on various platforms.
A week late, thanks to a considerable number of bugfixes, which will hopefully now make for a better game. 3.1.0 greatly improves collision checking and handling of latency, so the use of energy weapons at close proximity is now possible, plus a lot of other latency-related issues have been solved. The ship's inventory can now be displayed with "o" (default binding, console command is /toggleinventory). It's now possible to turbo while doing other things (chatting, using menus, etc). On Macs, Enter now works as Return, plus mousewheel support is now available. Many other issues have been fixed, several new statistics are now being tracked in the database (the stats CGI doesn't yet support them, but that will be added), etc.

Some problems are still outstanding. Linux crashes with older non-T&L videocards and older mesa/GLX drivers may still occur. Characters are still auto-launched from stations, etc.
New version fixes a crash involving lightning mines. Also, this version re-introduces the ability to hear the engines of remote ships and see their engine flares (this feature existed previously, but was removed in 3.0 due to some rearchitecture).
The Vendetta manual has been updated. The access problem that some users reported with the web manual should now be fixed. In addition, here's a teaser image of things in the works for the future of Vendetta: Frigate.
This release adds a number of rendering and collision detection optimizations that should improve performance. Many bugs and crashes have been fixed, although there are still a few yet remaining.
New features:

A teammate carrying a flag now shows up at a "+" on radar. Added mousewheel support for scrollbars and listboxes under Linux/Win32. Character names now max at 63 characters.

Added the commands:

/ignoretarget (ignore chat messages from selected target)
/givemoney [username] [amount] (user being given money must be in the same sector)

The following toggle types of blips on the radar displays:

/togglemissiles (default binding shift-m)
/togglecargo (shift-c)
/toggleobjects (shift-o)
/togglewormholes (shift-w)
/togglefriendlies (shift-f)
/togglehostiles (shift-h)

Plus many other minor changes and fixes.
New version gives a purpose to CTF. A 4000-credit bonus to the user who captures an enemy flag, 2000 credits for the rest of the nation (only people who are online at the time). Additionally, there's a bonus for a nation whose flag has been stolen but recovered. Picking up a flag now disables Turbo. Captures are good for Nation Conquest points for the nation, which are currently tracked in the database but not yet displayed on the website.

Addon and widget prices have been changed around, and a few new widgets have been added. The widget price structure is a bit rough at the moment and will be seeing some modification.

Stations are now visible on radar as a dot with a green "S". A few small changes have been made to weapons, with more significant changes on the horizon.

Vendetta Test 3.0.6 is available. It adds some very basic CTF support. It also adds some bugs. Please read the message board for more information about the game and bugs. Also don't forget to submit bug reports if you can't get the game to run or run correctly.
We accidentally broke the homing missile proximity warning. It will be fixed soon.
Cargo limits, based on ship class (light/medium/heavy) are now in place. Weapons availability is now limited, per ship class (much as pre-3.0). Directed messages and Team messages now work across sectors. Global messages now indicate the character's team and do not indicate the character's sector. Docking at home Nation stations (sectors 1, 2 and 3) is now limited to the respective home teams. Updated the HUD to display character's Credit account standings. Characters can no longer launch from stations without an engine or power cell. Robot scores no longer increase, only bounty now increases. Ships may (again) be damaged by their own weapons, such as rockets or mines at close proximity. Rebuilt the Updater and Bug Reporter for MacOS, hopefully solving the "re-download" problem. Other misc fixes and improvements.
Added the much-requested numbered radar icons for wormholes. Removed notification of character entry/exit to and from sectors. Fixed several crashes and bugs, including the "get launched from station with no inventory" bug (not related to similar, earlier mac-specific issue) and the "Loading Screen Of Doom" bug.

Accidentally made the robots a lot more dangerous. Should be fixed soon. Server-side only, no patch will be needed.
Fixed weapon-selection bug. Added hotkeys for (B)uy, (S)ell, and (R)epair. Zbuffer improved for OpenGL. Station interface bug (crash) has been fixed. Added a "/explode" command to console for self-destruction. Various other sanity checking improvements and misc fixes.

Still no wormhole-numbers on radar. Expect that in 3.0.4.
We fixed the MacOS-specific "repair/buy and be ejected helpless into space" bug. This also fixes an issue with being unable to purchase more mines, plus some graphical problems we noticed. There's still a number of outstanding bugs that we're working on, we just wanted to patch the Mac issue as quickly as possible.
A fix for some objects missing from the 3.0 release.

We definitely have some outstanding issues, including a problem with the ships ceasing to work after repairing or purchasing a widget. Plus, there seems to be a bug that causes a lockup mid-wormhole-jump (loading screen). These are being investigated.
Guild Software, Inc is happy to present the Vendetta Test, version 3.0. This version introduces a lot of new code, and probably a number of new bugs, so please keep those bug reports coming.

Major Improvements:

The game now features complete persistency. Red, Blue, and Gold "Nation" characters are spawned at their respective home stations, at the corners of a new 9-sector Universe. Many of the sectors contain space stations, with which you may dock, repair your vessel, purchase (or sell) ship addons, and trade in commodities. Each station has a commodity (currently called "widgets") in which it specializes, making long-range trade between stations a lucrative venture. Destroying enemy Robots or rival Nation pilots will also convert their bounties into credits for your use. Friendly Fire damage is not possible between members of the same Nation, giving gameplay a more team-oriented spin. Chat messages are now broadcast across all sectors. A very basic, temporary navigational aid is now present on the HUD, to help you find your way through the universe.

Graphically, some enhancements have been made for owners of recent videocards (Geforce4, Radeon 8500, Matrox Parhelia, etc). The game should still be playable for users on low-end systems, but some sectors may be slower than others. Some users of older videocards (TNT1, G3s with Rage128s) may wish to disable Environment Mapping (Video Settings menu) to increase performance in some sectors.

All scores and characters will be wiped from the database. Sorry, too many changes have been made to preserve the information. On the upside, web-posted score data should be improved in the near future.

Things That Didn't Make It Into 3.0:

The sound system still sucks, and as such, no new sounds are present (new sounds will be added after compression is added to the soundsystem, and other improvements are made).

The skyboxes (starfields/planets) are repetitive. Our dynamic skybox generation stuff is not far enough along to put into "production" yet. As such, with the new 9 system universe, we were faced with the prospect of either generating 5 new skyboxes (which would greatly increase the download size), or simply re-use the old ones from the 4 old sectors. We chose the latter, for the moment, to try and reduce the patch size.

A lot of work has gone into the new Updater, but it won't be debuting with 3.0. Soon though.

Vendetta Test 3.0 is intended to give us a fundamental base on which we can develop more advanced, long-term features. This is still, very much, an early development release. Most of the gameplay we intend to create still has yet to be made. However, this release should put us in a good position to implement and test new major features, as we move forward in development of Vendetta.
The "Work in Progress" area has been updated to show our current development directions. Click on "in progress" under Vendetta Info to get the latest information on the progression of our game.
Inventories and increased persistency are the major new features of 2.8.3. Collected powerups and health status are now persistent across sectors and after logoff. Death will result in the loss of all collected powerups. The fundamental underpinnings of a persistent game are now in place, as we move towards the major gameplay improvements planned for Vendetta Test 3.0. In addition, a number of bugs have been fixed, and some graphical content has been further optimized for speed. Please continue to report bugs via the webpage and/or bugreporter program, and feel free to post input on the messageboard. Thanks.
Bugfixes for various isses that cropped up after release of 2.8.
This is a pretty major release, from a development standpoint. The physics and collision systems have been completely revamped and much improved. Basic persistency has been added. Each user account now has up to 6 individual "Characters" which may be created. Information about the characters is all stored server-side, and will persist after logoff. The next release (short term, a week or so) will have basic inventory functionality, the ability to dock with stations, and a few other items that didn't make it into tonight's release. Additionally, systems have been rescaled and ship velocities further changed, in the interest of conveying a more accurate sense of scale.
Fixes for a few other minor bugs. Additionally, AI Robot Pilots are now "individuals", allowing them to be targeted with the "last hostile" key (defaults to 'y').
This patch fixes some bugs reported by a few users, as well as increasing game performance on certain systems.
This version includes quite a few changes, all of which will not be detailed here. We have changed the format of our bumpmaps, and bumpmapping is now supported under OpenGL (MacOS X and Linux). However, this necessitated recreating the bumpmaps themselves, which is responsible for the large patch size. Basic joystick calibration is now supported from the "Controls" menu. The new Cooperative sector will hopefully enhance player vs robot gameplay. The MacOS "flashing colors" bug has been fixed, largely due to Apple sending us a nice new Mac for testing (thanks to Wallace Poulter). As always, if you run across any problems, please submit a bug report or post on the messageboard. Thanks.
This release is just a quick fix for the Windows version crash most people reported in version 2.7.1 just after selecting a ship. No other changes.
2.7.1 is now out, including a great many fixes and gameplay changes. This patch will be a bit larger than the earlier ones (about 2mb), due to some required media updates. The deathmatch game cycle has been reduced to 15 minutes (from 30 minutes) and the scores have all been reset because of this.

Gameplay changes:

Light ships are much faster and more maneuverable. Medium/Heavy ships are also somewhat improved. Mines are more powerful and plentiful. Lightning mines are more powerful and less plentiful (per powerup). Health powerups give more health. Energy-based weapons use slightly more energy. Swarm missiles are now much more deadly. Mines and homing missiles will no longer hit your ship (when laying/firing them). Your current bounty is added to your score at the end of the game cycle.

Many bugs have been fixed, especially network-related issues. Some bugs still remain, but more debugging tweaks have been put into place to help us track them down. As always, please report any bugs you find. The Linux version in particular still has some issues, these will hopefully be resolved in the near future.
For those who missed it, GameSpy interviewed John "Incarnate" Bergman about the past, present, and future of Vendetta. Read the interview here.
2.7.0 is now online, including a number of bugfixes and important feature additions. Many network issues were resolved. A few issues may yet remain, but stability should be much improved. The homing missile proximity warning now works correctly and homing missiles are somewhat more accurate (a side effect of the fix), which may make them appear more deadly. Gamma correction is now available under MacOS X. Mouse configuration settings are now saved properly. The "select nearest enemy" key now *only* selects the nearest enemy (the additional selection changes will probably appear in the next version). The gameplay alterations (ship masses and so forth) have not yet been changed, but that should go into effect this weekend (no update will be required).

A couple of outstanding issues remaining: MacOS X still has no joystick calibration, and Linux is in need of new joystick code in general. These are in-process.

As always, if you run into any problems or crashes, please submit bug reports so that we might solve the problems as quickly as possible. Thanks.
It's important to note that the Vendetta Updater may place you in a download queue if too many other people are updating at once. If you are queued, the ETA should be displayed in the statusbar below the LogPanel (the window that shows the Message of the Day and version info). We would rather not queue people, but it's necessary to keep game downloads and updates from eating into the bandwidth required for actual gameplay.
Welcome to the Vendetta Test program. Vendetta is a multiplayer game by Guild Software, Inc. If you would like to play Vendetta (currently available free of charge), please create an account using the New Account button to the left. Once you have created an account, Login and select Download. This will allow you to select a platform (Windows, Mac, or Linux) and begin your download of the Vendetta Updater. After installation, the Updater will permit you to get the latest version of the game from our Update Servers. This final game download is about 30 megabytes, and could take several hours over a modem. The Updater can resume the download if the connection is lost. Once the Updater has received the entire game, click on "Play Vendetta", and enjoy! Please note that this is pre-beta *TEST* software, and may be prone to bugs. If you discover any bugs or major problems with the game, please report them via the Bug Report form on this website.
*All of it guarantee expires on June 1st 2014.