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Release of the Hive.

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 http://design.vendetta-online.com/wiki/index.php?title=Hive 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