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VO 1.7.25 / 1.7.26

We've had a few releases over the last couple of weeks, and added a few new bells and whistles, but not anything particularly major. We are working on the "major" stuff, but for the moment the bits of it that appear in the releases are still invisible "background" development. Andy and Michael have been working on stabilizing Kourier and are now moving on to documenting and designing how the new greater back-end is going to work. This is pretty critical, and will enable the "big" kind of gameplay we've been shooting for all along. It's also a moment to take a step back and reappraise the way we're doing things.. a lot of the post-deliverator development has been very short-term in focus, mostly just trying to get that functionality stabilized and reliable. But now that we're back to a place where we can actually consider new functionality in the not-very-distant future, we need to make damned sure the whole structure is as scalable, resilient and maintainable as we need it to be. After all, we don't want to put something important on it, like a fully dynamic economy or involved trade/faction war system, only to have things implode in some nasty way.

This is also good in some other ways, since our greater background architecture is getting some spring cleaning. Improvements to the way bots are handled, what they do, how they move from sector to sector, and so on. The impact of these basic improvements will be felt everywhere, from making the PCC missions more flexible (and thus, making more interesting missions possible) to making the existing bots and missions more interesting and responsive to user activity. Not to mention making capships more applicable to real usage and player ownership. All very useful stuff.

Ray is working on Friendly Fire / Faction feature for me, and reworking the way some of our data is stored. Some things have always been kept statically, other data was kept in a database but in a rather unpleasant format, and all these things need to be redone to allow a lot of the "bigger" features we want. For instance, to date the positions of our stations have all be stored statically in lua files, but we're now moving that into the database. This has little import right now, but it opens a door for player-created stations down the road. We've had the chance to test some of this by also releasing new medals and achievements, which depend on some of his new database layout. This is has given him a good functioning testbed on which he can see how things behave in a production environment and make revisions as necessary.

Medals and ship tweaks are ok, I know, but everyone's waiting for more interesting features. The nearest of which will likely be the Friendly Fire and Faction System redux, for which you have all been patiently waiting. I've kept saying I would be posting design data to the Suggestions forum, and kept having some other short-term excitement crop up and distract me from my longer term development goals. Such is life. Anyway, I'm hopeful about actually posting this to the forums sometime this week or weekend. It still needs some work and reorganizing, and a bit of thought put into a few more areas, but I think the bulk of it is reasonable. Once implemented, it should open up some interesting new gameplay, more codifying those who are pirates and those who aren't, and having considerable impact on the way newbies start out in the game and how friends/foes are identified on radar. This isn't a be-all end-all change, it will not feature user-defined radar colors or the various other related features we would all like to see. But hopefully it will fix a lot of existing problems without breaking too many new things, while also taking into account a lot of the user concerns/criticisms of my previous (and much simpler) design. Some of the baseline work has already been implemented, other bits will take awhile yet, since this system touches so many areas of the game. Things like.. treating newbies differently, and their related missions, don't seem directly related, but are a core aspect of why the Friendly Fire implementation has lasted so long. So, anyway, I don't think this will take forever to implement, but don't expect it the week after I post the design, or anything :).

In other, related news, we're using our new Trac system for all of the above development. Myself, with factions and medals and whatnot, Ray on how the database works, Andy and Michael on how bots and the back-end are being improved. Plus various tickets for implementing Suggestions forum posts or revising previous tickets based on user feedback. All of this will be exposed to you guys, in due course. It's still not ready yet.. we're still learning how to use it and populating it with data, but it's going well and I think it'll be pretty cool when it's public. If we're lucky, and things go well, it could be opened up in the coming month. I had hoped it would be live by now, but.. that's life (and game development).

As for this week, there will not be a release on Friday. What development we do have will need more testing, since it's fairly important stuff, so we'll likely do that over the weekend and release early next week. Not entirely sure what will be visible in that, we're still figuring that out. I know the medals and things aren't super exciting, but we're making an effort to have something visibly new in the game on each release. We have some machinations in the works for a few "single-character" medals, ie, medals that are handed out to only one individual on a weekly basis (most PVP kills that week, most xithricite mined that week, and so on), and move from character to character every week as people compete for them. Something along those lines may be showing up in the near future. Suggestions on this are welcome.

That about wraps things up for now. I'm going to go get back to that Faction work now. Thanks for your patience, everyone, and we hope you're having fun.

Quick Changelog:

*** Vendetta 1.7.26

- Added Basic Miner ribbons: each time you sell ore that you have mined (without jettisoning it at any point) you gain a point towards these ribbons
- Added an improved mining gun for Basic Miner ribbon holders
- Fixed bug where group list on HUD wouldn't always update correctly
- Fixed selection problem in Jettison menu

*** Vendetta 1.7.25

- Fixed /buddy note
- Fixed location of group members shown on HUD which were not up to date
- Implemented All-Weather Raptor suggestion: Raptors now have 1500m radar in storms.
- Fixed bug where some ship descriptions weren't being shown
- Fixed crash resulting from pressing F5 during loading