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What's Going On.

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTU_%28networking%29 ). 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!@#!).