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Server-side Release, Android updates

Last night (02/21) we shipped:

- Vendetta Online HD update now supports devices without gyros.
- Unaligned pirates have been re-implemented as Kourier (Erlang) persistent NPCs.
- Additional analytics added for monitoring of Kourier stability and NPCs.
- Drastically decreased the bandwidth usage of Bractus P1 test NPCs.

The VO HD APK update has been shipped to broaden support for Android tablets that don't feature gyroscope sensors. This requirement was originally related to Daydream VR, but that system has been discontinued by Google, and it came to our attention that some people who purchased VO HD had since upgraded to tablets that weren't allowed to install the game. This addresses that.

The unaligned pirates have been completely re-implemented, moving from the Lua codebase into Erlang, using the Kourier persistent-AI system. The goal here is to see more expansion of this type of gameplay, not just of the pirates themselves, but other types of NPCs and varied activity, in the framework that allows us the best power and persistency in NPC management. The original unaligned pirates were a very quickly-implemented test case, and now we're trying to move in a more production-grade direction, which will also allow for possible future behaviours, like NPCs pursuing players across sector boundaries, and the like.

The addition of Analytics for the Kourier system may not seem the most exciting, but the point here is to monitor the stability of certain issues we've seen in the past, with the trade convoys dropping off in quantity and the like. The trade-convoy dropoff was actually mitigated in the fall of last year, as a side benefit of other changes. But, this is kind of monitoring is still very important to making major changes to the economy, which are planned.

We've also tweaked the behaviour of certain NPCs when mining. NPC navigation makes use of "control systems", which in some NPC ship/mass/thrust configurations could result in directional stability that never entirely "settles", when they're trying to do something like "look" at where they're mining. This was causing the new test-sector NPCs in Bractus P1 to "fidget" while mining, which un-necessarily used up bandwidth, especially given the 300 NPCs in that sector.

That's been addressed, and we still encourage people to play around with the NPCs in Bractus P1, and give us feedback. They will only become aggressive if attacked, but then they will tend to swarm if one of them is attacked.

That's all for now. We are working towards more substantial gameplay changes, we just keep running into issues we need to fix first. Have a great weekend, everyone!