Vendetta Online 1.8.495

VO 1.8.495 includes:
- New experimental unaligned pirates show up in Latos on Saturdays around Noon Central (5-6pm in Europe). They are more likely to drop high-value capship parts, although it's still a rare occurance. They are independent of the other unaligned pirates.
- Fixed issue where swapping Aim and Throttle input regions on mobile didn't get applied immediately.
- Owners of User Access Keys no longer see other owners of the key unless you also own the Owner Key.
- The Keychain.list command is rate limited to one query at a time. Subsequent querys are queued up until the current query finishes. This may affect the speed of plugins that query all keys in a keychain in rapid succession.

We've spent a lot of time on server maintenance, over the last few weeks, but it's been paying off very well. Practically every single server and aspect of our infrastructure has been migrated, upgraded, and otherwise re-done. Some things have been made anywhere from 2x to 100x as fast, or more robust, or easier to maintain, or better monitored. This was much-needed maintenance, and puts the game in a much better place moving forward.

It may not sound like the most relevant thing to gameplay, but it directly bears on our plans. For instance, it's difficult for us to make major changes to large-scale gameplay (say, economics or mjoar nation-level AI) without effective analytics on the results, and our analytics system was aged and not really up to the task, so that needed a serious upgrade.

Similarly, we've been doing capacity tests on how well NPCs can scale on a given (single) CPU of the server back-end cluster, which clarifies for us exactly how far we can try to "push" things in a Universe Redux and other gameplay updates that directly impact on the number and distribution of NPCs.

Last night's addition of some new Pirates was a quick thing to hopefully a little content that people might gather around on Saturday afternoons (or evenings, European time), as people had been asking for more Unaligned-Pirate related content. We do have a lot more complex plans for the Pirates, but we only had a small window to try and add something new.

As always, thanks for your patience and support everyone, and have a great weekend!

Database Maintenance

The game will be going down this evening, 10/9, for a period of database maintenance and upgrades.

The maintenance window will begin at 9pm Central, and end at 1am Central. Within that time, the game should only be offline for less than an hour. If all goes well, perhaps as little as half an hour. Any outage should be during the scheduled window.

The upgrades will make the database perform better, be more robust against issues, and be easier for us to maintain. It will also be able to support a larger concurrent player count.

Thanks for your patience and support, as always.

Server Maintenance

We're planning to do some server migrations on Thursday and Friday evenings (September 12th and 13th, Central time), so there may be some related outages while we bring online some major infrastructure upgrades.

Thursday should be primarily related to the game website, and only impact new account creation, billing and some other areas, while leaving gameplay unaffected.

As always, we'll endeavor to keep these outages as brief as possible.

Vendetta Online 1.8.494

VO 1.8.494 includes:

- Added blinking arrows to the offline strafe tutorials on mobile versions.
- Reduced the lengths of some of the offline training tutorials on mobile.
- Improved precision of camera calculations on Android version when far away from the center of the sector.
- Fixed issue with very low resolution screens truncating menus on Android.
- Added full-screen support for Android devices with camera cutouts.
- Fixed lua errors.

A number of small tweaks and changes for Android and iOS.

August 2019 Newsletter

Our latest Newsletter recaps a lot of what's been publicly released this year, with a bit of context about where we're headed.

There's a lot more development going on behind-the-scenes, but that will hopefully begin to be announced in upcoming Newsletters.

Vendetta Online 1.8.493

VO 1.8.493 includes:
- Player-owned capships are now automatically added to the owner's group and do not count towards the group size limit.
- Sector notes now include an option for the color of the sector in the nav-map.
- Added Audio options to toggle the collision and jettison sound effects.

We're happy to hear the sector-notes option has been helpful to people. Please keep these kinds of ideas coming on Suggestions, we'll add them when we can!

Mining Changes

Tonight's update is entirely server-side, and is a very small tweak to the algorithm that controls how quickly asteroids will heat up, and cool down.

There have been some long-standing exploitative issues that have recently been coming to light, wherein particular mining beam and asteroid combinations could yield situations where the asteroid would be mine-able indefinitely (never heating up).

The mathematical model that governs the thermal properties of our asteroids is somewhat complex, so we've made the smallest and most minimally-invasive change to the algorithm that we can, removing only cases where the efficiency of certain beams and the lightly-randomized thermal properties of certain asteroids could interact in a nonsensical way.

This was an important issue for us to fix, particularly as we approach the Universe Redux and the potential for new ores and minerals, along with vastly greater quantities and types of asteroids. We don't want the underpinnings of a production-driven economy to have any issues like this.

If people run into other unexpected mining behaviour in the future, please let us know via a Support Ticket (if exploitable) or a forum Bug Report (if not). As always, exploitation of a flawed game mechanic is grounds for administrative action, so please, make the game better and more balanced for everyone, and report the issue.

Thanks everyone, have a great weekend!

Vendetta Online 1.8.491 and NPC fixes.

Tonight's update is largely server-side, and should fix a lot of the "aggro" problems with NPCs. Please continue to report any issues you see on the Bugs forum.

- Hive Queen escorts ("Retinue") will now aggro properly when you attack the Queen, or when you attack any respective escort. We may further bump their aggression, but for now we're just trying to fix the problem.
- General issues with NPCs "running away" after being attacked should now be resolved. You can aggro many NPCs onto yourself by attacking them.

Again, we're looking to add more interesting behaviour, but right now this is just intended to "make sure we've fixed the known issues" before changing things further.

VO 1.8.491, last week, included:
- Added 64bit support for Android, requires App Store update.
- Fixed crash on exit for Android when Voice Chat is enabled and disabled.

Some of the visible changes recently haven't been the most exciting (like 64bit Android), but we've had some external deadlines that needed to be met, like Google mandating a hard requirement for 64-bit Android apps in August. Normally, something that would be trivial for us, but because of an external library requirement, it became something that required a bit more time and planning to come together.

We intend to push a variety of mobile updates over the next month, bringing the mobile versions "up to date" for another lengthy period of time, while also hopefully streamlining the introductory experiences for new players, as well as rolling out a lot of engine improvements to mobile.

There are also other major projects and server-side developments that more directly impact gameplay, which are slated for the near-term. All in all we hope to see a few different areas of content be updated or improved in the near future. Stay tuned!

TeamDX and Nation War this weekend!

Be sure to stop by the game this weekend for:

Nation War #468 - 06/30 at 00:00 UTC (Saturday at 7pm Central Daylight Time)

TeamDX #20 - 06/30 at 02:00 UTC (Saturday at 9pm Central Daylight Time)

You can also sign up for the events on the Vendetta Online Facebook page. See you there!

Vendetta Online 1.8.490

VO 1.8.490 includes (06/28/19):

- Aim and Throttle touch regions now have variable sensitivity, with a separate bar that may be adjusted for each field to raise or lower the control sensivity levels.
- Default sensitivity settings for Aim and Throttle touch regions have been improved. To restore classic functionality, set the sensitivity levels to 2x in Controls -> Touch.
- Aim and Throttle touch regions are now optionally set inwards a little to reduce the chance that the Android Menu bar is activated. Enabled by default for phone form factor devices.
- Sensor Notification is now enabled by default for new users, and set to "Player Only".
- Changed "entered the sector" sensor notification text "entered your radar range".
- The "Touch" tab is now selected by default on Touch platforms, when entering the Controls menu.
- Renamed and moved various Interface HUD touch settings to Controls -> Touch.
- Fixed issue with Field of View not being fully restored when entering sectors using First-person Cinematic Camera Mode.
- Fixed issue with Text To Speech volume control not functioning properly on Oculus Go.

Basically, this may be the biggest single improvement in mobile/touch game usability that we've made in a long time. It covers a number of areas, including the discovery of a long-standing bug in the touch control UI, and a lot of small improvements to help people configure things to best suit their particular play style.

No, we have not integrated a fully-configurable UX yet (a-la DroidButtons), but this should at least be a big help in the meantime.

If you run across any bugs, please post them to the Bugs forum. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.489

VO 1.8.489 includes (06/21/19):

- Drain Mines have been buffed from 250 to 1500 in power-drain impact.
- Violating NFZ six times in a 24h period, with a single faction, causes Temp KOS for 24 hours for that faction. Corvus is excluded from this.
- Text To Speech volume control now works on Oculus Go.
- Guild and Group members are now tagged as friendly on the radar.
- Text colors are now configurable by skins with a custom config.ini file located in the skin's directory.
- Capship Swarm Turrets have been nerfed from 25 to 35 grid power, to limit combative power against planned higher-level NPCs.

The capship adjustment at the end is pretty controversial, understandably so. However, it's already been said that Capship-v-Capship gameplay is not yet implemented, and the current loadouts are overpowered, which is going to cause problems in the rollout of new PvE goals (basically, creating far too much of an advantage for capship ownership). So, as with any set of major changes or updates, you can expect other things to be adjusted.

It doesn't mean anyone will be left defenseless, or that people's investment in their capship will be devalued. If anything, the value will increase in time. But, adjustments will be made throughout the process of change. It's been some years since we've had major gameplay updates, and some newer players aren't familiar with the process: Don't stress out too much, we'll get through it, and the game will be far better and more interesting as a result.

Vendetta Online 1.8.488

VO 1.8.488 included (06/14/19):

- NPCs will now continue to persue and attack you if you get too far away.
- NPCs now gradually orient their ships to the plane of the sector.
- Fixed performance issues in Nav menu in the Windows version.
- Fixed navroute text using the wrong font in the Windows version.
- Fixed issue with new target selection boxes when the feature is disabled in the Windows version.

Addressed some long-standing issues with bot behaviour, an area we're continuing to work on improving.

Vendetta Online 1.8.486-487

VO 1.8.487 includes:
- Target Ping latency indicator for currently selected target is displayed by color of the word "Ping" to the right of the Distance field. The color Green for < 150 ms, yellow for 150 to 300 ms, red for 300 to 500 ms, and blue for over 500 ms.
- Your own Ping latency is indicated underneath your ship's Health percentage on the right-hand side of the HUD (PC/mobile), the same colors are used.
- Fixed issue with Android version choosing the wrong screen size and clipping off half the view.
- Save Password setting defaults to checked for mobile versions.
- Windows version has a new experimental feature that displays selection boxes and names on other ships.
Type "/set rAllTargetBoxes 0" (without the double quotes) to turn it off.
There are 4 modes, and the default setting is 3:
1 - Only boxes around every ship
2 - Boxes and name around every ship
3 - Boxes around every ship and names for players only
4 - Boxes around every ship and name for only the selected ship
The box and name fade out between 500 and 1000 meters away.
Configurable settings are rAllTargetBoxFontSize defaulting to 6, rAllTargetBoxFontAlpha defaulting to 0.25, rAllTargetBoxFontFadeMinDistance defaulting to 500, and rAllTargetBoxFontFadeMaxDistance defaulting to 1000.

VO 1.8.486.1 included:
- Capship hulks no longer prevent you from jumping out of the sector (people incorrectly thought this was a "time delay" in the Unrat sector, for instance).
- Fixed issue with Android Updater on old devices.

VO 1.8.486 included:
- Fixed issue with hybrid monoscopic not showing leadoff targets or other positional radar elements in Daydream.
- Fixed black boxes in background on Windows.
- Anisotropic setting in DirectX 11 are now applied immediately and default to 8x.

A number of updates and improvements lately. This latency indicator has been long-requested, and hopefully it provides some value to people, being able to see how their ping compares to that of others, during PvP combat.

By putting some work into this area, it does open up the possibility of more elaborate mitigations to certain network-related issues in the future; but make no mistake, a lot of this is complex and time-consuming engineering, with a lot of testing and tuning required. We still have a huge current-workload that's on a fixed timetable, so don't expect us to suddenly change our entire priorities from what we've been explaining over the last year. But, know that it is an area where we're making enhancements when we can.

Feedback is welcome on all of this, particularly the new "selection box" visibility stuff on Windows, and the functionality of the Ping Indicator. Please use the Forums appropriately for any thoughts (Suggestions, Bugs, General, etc).

Vendetta Online 1.8.484-485

VO 1.8.485 (yesterday) includes:

- No-Fire-Zone TempKoS is now applied to players who self-destruct and damage others.
- Added options to enable dynamic lights and shadows for OpenGL ES 3, currently disabled by default.
- Improved performance in Daydream VR using a hybrid monoscopic rendering technique.

VO 1.8.484 (last week) included:
- The Windows version uses a new multi-threaded rendering back-end that scales better with more CPU cores. This is a really major and significant release, from our perspective, although our hope is that you "won't notice anything is different", as that's the best possible outcome. This is a big step towards next-generation content, however.
- Improved anisotropic filtering in the DX11 driver, which now defaults to 8x (note, there is apparently a bug where this isn't properly defaulting to "on" with existing installs, we're still investigating).
- Updated Windows Vulkan driver.
- Removed DirectX 8.1 support.
- Background detail settings have changed to include a quality setting and a resolution setting, "resolution" is not used if quality is "high".
- Audio limiter on the Windows version no longer affects music, only sound effects.

It should also be noted that we've made some other substantial changes to the Android version, and pushed out new "full install" APKs to the Play Store, for both the "HD" and "Free" versions. This includes a major re-work of the Android "permission" system that allows the game to be as minimally invasive on permissions as possible, requesting only when something is only absolutely required. So, for instance, you will be asked for Microphone permissions when you actually enable Voice Chat, but as it is disabled by default, you won't be asked on installation or startup.

Similarly, we've been doing some background work to elevate the performance of the Android version, with the ES3 and threaded renderers, and make it more of an "equal ground" build, compared to the PC versions. This includes many of the higher-end shaders, like dynamic lighting and shadows, which are now available on Android, but disabled by default. Android device performance is drastically increasing, and we may start to enable some of these graphical enhancements by default on hardware that can handle it.

The flip-side, is that we're also trying to make sure the Android version is fast enough to handle some of the next-generation "Universe Redux" content that's our overall end-game in much of this technology work. Making major, fundamental engine and shader changes on Android is kind of an arduous process, because it's such a fragile and fragmented ecosystem. Thus, we have to ship a lot of small changes, every week, and "see what breaks" (usually on some specific, buggy hardware) and then try and fix that. We cannot ship a single "big" release, as that makes the number of variables too great, and the bugs become harder to track down.

The reason why I explain this, is to point out that while we're publicly releasing for Android a lot lately, that actually has not been the primary focus of our development time, and that will start to hopefully become evident before long.

Thanks for your patience, please keep the Bug reports and Suggestions coming, we are actively reading them, even if we're too busy to be very directly communicative lately.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.483

VO 1.8.483 includes:

- The regular non-HD Android "free" version now includes OpenGL ES 3 driver and performance enhancements for densely populated sectors, such as debris fields, on devices that support OpenGL ES 3. It is used by default on new installs, but existing installs will have to switch to it in Options -> Advanced -> Video -> Change Drivers.

More changes in the works, but some last-minute bugs prevented shipping some new updates for Windows and elsewhere.

We highly recommend that existing Android users switch over to the ES3 renderer, on compatible devices. In heavy sectors it can make for a 7x performance difference, or more.