Vendetta Online 1.8.354

VO 1.8.354 includes:

- Enabled multi-threaded physics engine, defaulting to 4 threads.
- Fixed rendering issues for ships with liveries applied to them.
- Livery is no longer applied to the Anniversary Edition Vulture.
- Fixed issue with livery setting not being saved in ship presets.
- Fixed issue with not saving /alias commands correctly if they contain double quotes.

Several issues conspired to delay development this week. For one thing, we were notified of a maintenance that will impact our web-server next week, which prioritized some re-organization and administrative work on our end.

Similarly, we hoped to launch the DX11 engine into production this week, but we found a threaded-renderer bug at the last minute. By the end of the evening we pretty well resolved that issue, but chose to delay release until next week, to allow further testing. So it goes in the world of development.

As always, thanks for your patience, we have to get these things done to make 1.9 happen.

Have a great weekend!

Vendetta Online 1.8.353

VO 1.8.353 includes:

- Fixed DirectX 9 display problem of new configurable Ship Liveries.

Please keep us posted about any problems you see with the new Ship Livery system. We want to make sure it's 100% solid before shipping out the new specialty livery from the EverSpace Kickstarter promo.

Beyond this, we've had a lot of time soaked up by some big projects this week, but hopefully we'll be seeing some more involved updates next week.

Vendetta Online 1.8.351

VO 1.8.351 includes:

- Vendetta Online adds independently configurable "Ship Livery". This new type of skinning system will allow a variety of different aesthetic ship "looks" to be available. Ship Livery may have diverse requirements, including faction standing or affiliation, purchase with credits or crystal, or be related to an accomplishment or badge of some sort. Any mission outcome could result in a special Livery, and may eventually be something that can be picked up as Cargo. The "Livery" button can be found in the Ship Purchase menu, near the color-picker. (Livery only available for the Vulture, so far, more are in the works).
- Commodities and ship lists now retain their current scroll positions when the station interface updates.
- The rotating ship view no longer resets its orientation when changing ships.

Vendetta Online 1.8.350

VO 1.8.350 includes:

- 21 new missions added by members of the Player Contribution Corps! These new missions tie together and further extend a number of existing mission-trees. They also result in some interesting rewards, including limited creation of capship components. Credit for this new content goes primarily to Phaserlight for writing the new missions, along with Meridian for extensive editing, as well as further testing and feedback by Mr_Spuck and Darth Nihilus. Be sure to thank them for their efforts in bringing new content to the game. If you've never played any part of these mission trees before, you might start with "Hazardous Site Investigation" (UIT), "Lesson Among the Stars" (Itani), or "Errant Transports" (Serco). If you're interested in creating missions for Vendetta Online, check out the "PCC" area of the Vendetta Online website!

Vendetta Online 1.8.349

VO 1.8.349 includes:

- Trident capship-owners may now message basic commands to their ships ("/msg"), while they are un-docked. The "follow" command will cause the player's trident to follow them, as best it can, within the given sector. The capships will not yet follow across jumps or wormholes. The "park" command causes the given ship to park in its current location. An expanded command-set will be coming in a future release. Only the ship's owner may issue commands at this time.
- We've made several changes and updates to the Voice Chat system over the last few weeks, including some major fixes that may resolve the long-standing "channel-leaking" problem. We'd appreciate it if people on supporting platforms (Windows, Linux, and Android/ARM, but not Android/x86) could try using the voice chat system, and let us know how it's working. Please post any on-going problems on the Bugs forum. Thanks!
- We have mitigated and resolved a server-side issue that was causing brief moments of connection issues (~20 seconds) every night around 12:30 central time.

Vendetta Online 1.8.348

VO 1.8.348 includes:

- New prototype dynamic economy in the Orion Mining station located in Latos N-2. Locally produced goods are now manufactured at a fixed rate, and can be depleted; non-local goods arrive only by NPC Trade Convoy or Player Trading. Any commodities, ships, and addons sold to the station become available for purchase, but currently retain the common pre-requisites for the respective item (Level, Faction Standing, etc). As the quantity of an item increases, the price drops, and vice versa. Custom items such as event trophies cannot be sold to the station at this time.

Please keep in mind that this is very much still a prototype economy model. We're tweaking pricing and a number of other factors. Yes, it will eventually spread to other stations, but we have a lot of tweaking and measurement to do before it becomes the dominant economic system of the galaxy.

As always, bug reports and feedback are greatly welcomed! Thanks all, have a great weekend.

Level3 Communications Backbone Network Problems

For the last day and a half, the Level3 Communications network has been experiencing major problems in the Midwest area. Although our game is served from four different transit providers, of which Level3 is only one of them, this is still impacting a lot of players. They are a common transit path for many providers, as they've historically been one of the better Tier-1 ISPs.

Level3 is actively working on the issue, but we don't have an ETA at this time. Problems you experience in the game, related to various forms of "lag" are probably going to be related to this.

August Newsletter, Economy Changes, EverSpace Promo

We're pretty excited about some of the new changes coming to our dynamic economy in the near future, and we discuss that and a number of other topics in the latest Vendetta Online Newsletter:

One of the more unusual points to be found in there, is our support for a completely different, unrelated game, the upcoming single-player title EverSpace from RockFish Games. RockFish is a new studio, formed from the original team members who created the Galaxy On Fire series. They're good friends of ours, and we're doing what we can to help their Kickstarter succeed. The game itself looks beautiful, and is already to a playable prototype stage, but they're looking for funds to help complete it.

Thus, we've chosen to make a special offer available: If the EverSpace Kickstarter succeeds, we will give every backer a special Vulture ship-skin in Vendetta Online, and we will randomly choose one lucky backer to receive free a one-year Premium subscription to our game ($90 value)! Check out the above newsletter for details, and be sure to take a look at the EverSpace Kickstarter. If you're a Vendetta Online player, chipping in $5 to help them is probably worth it just for the content we're giving away! (We derive no financial benefit from this, we're just trying to help another indie game company get started).

We think their game looks amazing, and we hope it's something you like as well.

Dramatic Server Migration was Dramatic.

Vendetta Online is now up and running on a completely different server cluster, in a new location. This is actually pretty exciting, and more information about this will be coming in the next Newsletter, due out shortly.

Unfortunately, the process of migrating the server was not without challenges, as shown by the extended downtime over the weekend. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused. The bug was a pretty deep and low-level mix of different things, which all had to randomly happen at the same time in a particular way to create a problem. Unfortunately, it only ever showed up under production usage. No amount of testing ever demonstrated the problem, as some problems actually require a full load before they start to appear (real people behave differently from simulated loads).

Anyway, we tracked down and fixed the bug as quickly as possible, and the game should now be stable again. Please do continue to open Support Tickets and post on the Forums if you should happen to see some sort of major issue.

This new server cluster should open up a lot of gameplay possibilities for the expanded universe, and increased capacity, like the ability to sustain loads from new iPhone and Steam users.

But, for the moment, we're still evaluating things. Thanks for your patience during the transition.

Vendetta Online 1.8.347

VO 1.8.347 includes:

- Updater and game client now use a threaded getaddrinfo to look up the server's IP address; if DNS fails to resolve within 10 seconds, it will fall back to a visible error, instead of using OS timeouts.
- Updater now directly uses the patch cloud hostname, instead of redirecting through
- Hive Stronghold sectors idle timeout is set to 5 minutes, a more reasonable length of time to return and pick up Leviathan drops.
- OpenGL driver restores the window title if it has to be recreated for video option changes.

After the migration last Friday, we hit a bug that only impacted new Android users, which took some time to fully debug, although we had mitigated it on the server-side by Saturday night. A lot of the work this week was to make the updater and installer that much more robust, to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

Plus, we had been planning to add some of these features for some time. For one thing, it brings VO a little closer to native IPV6 compatibility (although we aren't there yet), and also allows the game to react better to failure cases (with a proper error message), like people who have a misconfigured nameserver, or those experiencing an outage.

The bug, and subsequent fixes, soaked up much of the time intended for the server migration this week. So, that has been tentatively pushed to next week.

Thanks, and have a great weekend, everyone!
05 now More Secure and SPDY!

As of last week, the website is now running from a totally new and updated webserver, with significantly more bandwidth, sixteen times as much ram as the old machine, and four times as many cores.

We used to only encrypt website traffic when you were really using a "secure" area, like viewing important account information. Now, however, you may notice the browser's Lock icon appears constantly: The entire website is 100% encrypted at all times, and non-encrypted traffic is no longer supported. We're also offering some of the more recent cryptographic enhancements, like the Google-supported ChaCha20/Poly1305 cipher, for those on Chrome browsers, as well as protocol enhancements like SPDY, to make the site load considerably faster. Towards the end of the year, we expect to also support the next-generation web protocol HTTP/2 as well. We'll be continuing to tinker with the site over the coming months, as things stabilize, further extending our support for HTTP Strict Transport Security (also pre-loading the site into browsers), and adding HTTP Public Key Pinning.

The upshot of which is: The site should now be more robust, more secure, and faster than ever. It is still built with our same degree of care and heightened security-paranoia, so we hope it will be a great home for a long time to come. The internet has taken a lot of security hits over the last couple of years, from major SSL exploits like Heartbleed, to revelations about eavesdropping, and now the recent Android Stagefright bug. The best anyone in our position can really do, is build the best infrastructure we can imagine, and keep a watchful eye on the horizon. That's part of what this new site and system is about: a new setup to help mitigate potential unforeseen attacks, while also letting us react more quickly to news of brand-new bugs or issues.

Migrating this site took quite a lot of time, as it's a pretty complex endeavor, but we're very happy to have it out of the way. We're still going to be doing more server-migration work over the coming weeks, this time working on the game-server itself, to make for a faster and more scalable game environment. These changes haven't happened yet (we'll post again when they're in place), but we're hoping for faster sector load-times, faster player inventory access, and potentially opening up the ability to experiment with much larger space battles and other content.

We've also had some bugs appear lately in the game-update software, which we want to patch and improve as soon as possible. None of this is really the most exciting stuff to develop, we would rather be working on gameplay; but getting the infrastructural issues out of the way will give us a much better foundation on which to launch Vendetta Online 1.9.. and beyond!

Vendetta Online 1.8.346

VO 1.8.346 includes:

- Changed the 'Route' button in the Mission Info to 'Dock' and displays text saying to dock to the local station to accept the mission when clicked.
- The "PLAYER_DIED" lua event now triggers for anyone who dies within your sensor range (15km). Chat messages are only displayed if you are the victim or the killer.
- After un-docking from your own persistent capship, your capship now retains current velocity and slows to a stop, instead of stopping immediately.
- Jumping into a sector and landing directly into a capship docking bay no longer auto-docks your ship.
- Fixed typo in Training Neutron Blaster description.
- Also, server-side changes from this week: new production database system, new game webserver, etc.

Lots of infrastructural changes took place this week. We're still kind of "settling in" with the new servers and database systems, so please continue to let us know if anything isn't working properly. We'll have more announcements about all of this next week. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Scheduled Maintenance Window

Vendetta Online will be undergoing planned server-side maintenance tonight, July 29th 2015,between 11:59pm and 3am, US Central Time.
Maintenance will impact both the game and the website forums, and downtime could be as long as an hour.
Thank you for your patience while we're working to improve the game.

Scheduled Maintenance Window

Vendetta Online will be undergoing planned server-side maintenance tonight, July 28th 2015,between 11:30pm and 2am, US Central Time.
Maintenance will impact both the game and the website forums, and downtime could be as long as an hour.
Thank you for your patience while we're working to improve the game.

On-going server development.

We've had a long week of very carefully moving database tables from one place to another, and then fixing all the related code. This is pretty delicate, time-consuming and tedious work, but it's critical to the upcoming "server migration" that has been referenced in the last couple of update notices.

For many years, we've run almost entirely out of a single datacenter, operating from hardware we own. But times have changed, we need to be able to scale in the face of possible large player counts from feature-promotions on iPhone, Android, Steam, and the like. "Cloud" computing services allow a degree of elasticity that will strongly benefit the game, letting us spin up a large amount of hardware when briefly needed, and then turn it back off again when the demand goes down.

For instance, this enables options like firing up a huge dedicated server to handle a massive sector battle-event for a few hours, and then shutting it down when the event wraps. The cost of creating that "new" server for a couple of hours would only be a few cents, compared to the big cost of our dropping several grand on a big server (and needing to host it, maintain it, power it, cool it, and having it sit idle when not-needed). By the same token, this same scalable infrastructure can potentially help us absorb hundreds of thousands of new iPhone players for a week, or other difficult-to-predict spikes in player concurrency.

The game architecture itself was always built around this model, even going back to the 90s, as we always wanted to be able to scale the game very quickly. So that part is pretty easy. Some players may even recall that we ran the whole game off of a cloud provider for a week, as a testbed experiment, before pulling it back to our own (less costly) hardware.

But, even with that, there's still some legacy development-baggage from having all your hardware in one place. Right now we're primarily focusing on changing the way the website and the game will communicate, to allow us greater freedom to host the game itself (or parts of it) anywhere, while the website and secure billing data will remain on physical hardware we actually own. This means the connections and services must be robust to potential disconnects from fiber cuts, routing flaps and other unexpected internet outages.

In the meantime, of course, we're also doing a lot of administrative "cleanup", updating and further hardening the security of various systems, while making others more flexible and robust. We originally budgeted a week for this process, but we keep discovering legacy stuff we need to take into consideration with the new design. It's amazing the amount of code cruft and legacy services you end up with, after 13+ years of running an evolving, production MMORPG.

Given that context, a couple of weeks of cleanup is probably not surprising? Still, we're hoping this will mostly wrap up next week, in terms of what is soaking up most of our development time.

After that, we'll be back to patches and release updates, and in a much better place to continue the push for VO 1.9 and beyond!