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VO 1.7.22 / 1.7.23

These two releases, made this past week, bring some minor improvements to the new ribbon/medal system, along with a few performance enhancements, while we continue working on the "bigger" stuff in the background.

Among other things, the Accomplishments display (under Character in the PDA) has been reformatted to be a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Several minor features related to this have been added, such as an Advancement Log update whenever you gain or upgrade a medal, which is also printed to the HUD. New medals can be accrued by hunting Hive ships, as well as trading profitably. You can expect a lot more types of medals to appear over the coming months, for all sorts of different topics. Obviously we have the categories for combat, trading and mining, but we're also aiming to add some dynamic "single-character" medals, such as (just some quick ideas): "Most profitable trader", "Most effective miner", or "Scourge of the Pirates", all of which would be *unique* to only one individual in the universe at a time and would include some specialized rewards. These will be handed out based on rolling averages over a period of time (perhaps a month), rather than lifetime totals, to allow relative newbies to compete for them. We still don't have any new benefits or equipment allotted to any of the newly-added medals/ribbons, but that will come soon enough. The good news is that we've greatly streamlined the whole process of adding new statistics collections, on which the medals are based, which should make it easier for us to add more in the future. Putting together the greater "medals system" has worked out pretty well in the last couple of weeks, although there are still some problems to fix.

On the performance front, 1.7.22 added support for threaded OpenGL on MacOS X. It should only be enabled on Intel-based machines with recent OS X, PPCs should be unaffected by this. Basically, it should allow some video chips on dual-core machines (such as the slower GMA950 GPU found in the non-Pro MacBook, Mini and some iMacs) to use the second core for vertex processing, resulting in an overall speedup. However, it may actually decrease performance for "core solo" (single core) intel machines, such certain Minis, but the negative impact should be minor.

We also made some changes to the way vertex buffers are handled in OpenGL, which seems to have either made things greatly faster for some people, or mildly worse for others, depending on one's driver revisions and particular vendor implementation of OpenGL. As always, we recommend having the most up-to-date drivers, on Linux this would mean a relatively recent copy of Nvidia's X11 binary; on Macs it would mean, literally, a recent version of OS X.

Work with bigger projects is ongoing in the background. Kourier is slowly becoming more stable. Ray has completed a plan for moving some of our currently-static universe data into the database, allowing us to manipulate it more dynamically. The Faction/FF development is ongoing, and you should see some design posted to the Suggestions forum in the very near future (I'm hoping later today, but frankly I also hoped it would be this past Tuesday.. stuff happens, as they say). With any luck, the Factional/FF work won't take terribly long to implement, and will herald the birth of 1.8.

A few changelogs:

*** Vendetta 1.7.22

- Mac version now uses multiprocessor-aware OpenGL by default
- Optimized OpenGL particle rendering
- New ribbon/medal display
- Fixed fog problems with DirectX 8.1
- Medals & ribbons are now superseded by "higher level" versions of the same medal, so for instance if you have Level 3 Hive Queen Hunter, your Level 1 and Level 2 ribbons go away.

*** Vendetta 1.7.23

- some awards now show your progress to the next award in the award tree
- fixed crash when mouse cursor is hovering over the station/ship's inventory list when loading/unloading cargo
- fixed linux bug reporter
- fixed problem with advanced combat mission slowing down the client after performing the mission for a long time
- updated descriptions of some medals
- added medal title to medal description
- new trade medal tree