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Vendetta Online 1.6.0

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!