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Short Term Changes in the Works

I'm going to try and keep this post a little shorter than usual, but just mention a few short-term projects and what you can expect in the immediate future (mostly development in the one or two week timeframe). I know I have promised a bullet-point list of the 1.9.0 and 2.0 goals, but for now I'm just covering what we are currently doing.

Small Stuff. Mac people can expect some sort of attempt to fix the gamma-change problem. We'll see how that goes.

Faction/Friendly Fire Changes (general plans outlined here). The "newbie sectors" are in place, and have been quite well received by the community. There are still some changes to training missions, a few new training missions, and special-case handling that is needed before that area is "complete", but it's at least pretty close. Next topic will be Radar, and you will hopefully see something appearing in a patch by next week sometime. Once Radar and Newbie Sectors are both fully completed (which shouldn't take too long), we need to add some special-case migration handling to allow people to choose where they want to keep their existing faction standing (triple-PoS people). I'll post more specifics on that when I know more. After that, it will be feasible to look at dropping FF, and the other various other changes. I really want to get this stuff out of the way as soon as possible, so I can move on to other, more fun things, like creating new gameplay.

Before we drop FF universally, we may also drop it in a few specific sectors, in grayspace, to allow some transitional experimentation.

Border Skirmish Changes. These are coming too, you've seen some updates and tweaks recently, as we try to improve some of the capship AI and gameplay mechanics. We fully intend to follow this up with a major revamp and expansion of gameplay, which will probably happen roughly in parallel with the previously-mentioned FF/Faction changes (over the coming weeks). That will mostly be Michael and I, where the Faction/FF stuff is mostly Ray and I. The problem is making sure there's enough "I" to go around. FF/Faction stuff has the overall priority, but I want to get the BS changes going as well; there's no reason we can't do both in this particular case, as long as I can juggle the design and project-management needs of both. Anyhow, that's what we've been doing, and we will be continuing on that trajectory.

Billing Changes, Improvements. Andy has been working on a few other things, mostly dividing his time between PCC changes and billing-system improvements. We're probably going to be pulling PayPal payments in-house in the near future, which should be good news for those who use that payment system. The price will go down (for PayPal people, to match the credit-card prices), and new options may become available, such as recurring billing for those who really want it. We're still in the tweaking and integration phase, but you can expect this to appear in the near future.

Other forward-looking development on the billing front, includes things like purchasable Gift Keys, and the ability to make special extended-trial keys available to existing subscribers, so their friends can try the game.. etc. Maybe even proper Merchandise, if we have time (hi Leebs). Not promising any of this in the next two weeks, but it is intended to grow out of the codebase-refactoring that Andy is currently doing.

Economy, Trading, Mining, etc. I'm still tweaking this stuff when I get a chance, and you can expect some changes this week (Fri). I'm continuing to try to drive more traffic to grayspace, I admit I've been a bit conservative on the pricing.. after all, we just re-adjusted the whole economy, the idea of opening up a new "money hole" is not terribly attractive. That said, you can expect to see more routes to gray, and more lucrative routes.

You can also expect to see more mining missions, and probably more Manufacturing missions now that the "mission-per-unit-time" Requirement is fully functional. This was tested in the mining missions of a few weeks ago, and allows us to make missions which give "stuff" away, while putting an absolute limit on how often someone can take such a mission, thus mitigating potential exploits.

Further Down the Road (more than two weeks).. there are so many things we'd like to move forward. The new "newbie" sectors give a glimpse of the sort of tight asteroid fields that I'd like to see more of in the galaxy. I've been talking about a "Universe Redux" for awhile now, where we completely re-work the entire galaxy, but I have just been too occupied with other development to pursue it. That's one of the "fun" things I'd like to look at, post-FF/Faction-Project. Revisiting CtC and the general higher-level gameplay constructs is another big one. Improvements in BS is an important aspect of that, but there are a lot of others. Bringing back NPC pirates, and making them cool. Bringing back bounties, and making them not an exploitable mess. Ongoing competitions, like monthly PvP dueling for a "Title", even guild-vs-guild rankings and competition over a variety of areas. Stuff like player-owned stations and capships are really not all that far off, once we get a lot of this "reworking, fixing, gameplay-maintenance" out of the way. But, first things first.

Player Contribution Corps. There's been a lot of activity in the PCC lately. Numerous mission trees in testing. Hopefully we'll see some more of these missions shortly. The PCC-Lua people have also done some interesting stuff in the past few months, which we are now in the process of integrating.

That's about all for now. Please keep giving us feedback on the forums. Even if something has been reported before, if you're still seeing it a month or two later.. give us a heads-up again. Recently we've been tracking down a lot of annoying bugs that pop up in one place, where we fix it, only to realize later that it's still present in some other, less-common scenario. The feedback and reports really helps us with this, so please continue letting us know if different things are behaving strangely, or improperly. Now is the time to make that known.

Thanks much, all. Take care.