Vendetta Online 1.8.385

VO 1.8.385 and prior patches included:

- Simulated VR Mode now has a bindable key or button for looking around, called "+VRLook". It currently defaults to right-mouse-button.
- Fixed a Lua error for capship owners launching their fighter while manned to a turret.
- New dynamic server packet-queuing and priority change to drastically improve chat and effect delays during larger capship battles. Tested in development with 200 close-proximity capships per battle. Prioritization only dynamically scales with larger numbers of ships per sector, so less populated regions and sectors are unaffected.
- Changed the distribution of services within the game-server cluster, to enhance performance with higher peak player counts.
- Fixed issue with dropped key and mouse inputs in OS X with the new OpenGL 4 video driver.
- Fixed lua error when joining a group and Voice Chat is enabled.
- Removed dark background of HUD notification text when not in VR mode.

The new server changes are pretty interesting, as they open the door for larger battle events, with the eventual goal of player contention for territory in the expanded universe. We plan to do some big events to help test this in the near future.

We're also pushing hard towards a number of other goals, including shipment of the GearVR version, now in its second wide-area Beta test. Thanks to all those beta participants for making the game release better for everyone.

Beyond that, there's been a lot of other work behind the scenes. We have a new mailing list and newsletter system, after our previous email-provider abruptly increased their prices many-fold earlier this year, so you can now expect to start seeing some VO newsletters again in the near future.

Lastly, we've been doing quite a bit of server housekeeping, upgrades and administration. Thanks for your patience during the periodic downtimes. We keep them to a minimum, but every year or so it's good for us to do this kind of extended update and cleanup process, especially in advance of our upcoming launches on Steam, GearVR and elsewhere.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.384

VO 1.8.384 includes:

- Added /voicegroup set of commands, similar to /group, that creates arbitrary Voice Chat channels (up to 32 players). Use the /voicechattoggle command to switch between subscribed channels, such as Group, Guild, and others. Type /voicegroup to display its usage.
- Added a description overlay to the nav map in VR mode, when Look-To-Select is enabled, to show the description of the currently selected sector.

The new general-usage voice chat system is just a first pass. We intend to also add an elaborate UI around it, but after we do some more testing with VR and other use-cases to determine what kind of interface will work best.

In the meantime, let us know how the functionality works?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.381-383

Many gameplay, VR and other small enhancements over the last few weeks. Lots more changes coming as we move towards various launches.

VO 1.8.383 included (tonight):
- Mines can no longer be dropped in No Fire Zones.
- Cargo inside of ships that are docked in the Trident's cargo will now drop when the Trident is destroyed.
- A message notification now appears on the HUD when attempting to pick up cargo but your ship's cargo hold is full.
- Fixed Marauder, Valkyrie, Prometheus rendering issues in DirectX 11 dynamic lighting mode.

VO 1.8.382 included (last week):
- Fixed chat entry while changing sectors in Simulated VR.
- Enhanced compiler optimizations for both Linux 32 and 64bit versions, potential performance benefits.
- Glibc 2.14 and Glibc++ 3.4.15 are now required for the Linux 64 version (Linux from 2012+).
- Large port on the Corvus Greyhound has been changed to a Small port (per extensive Suggestions forum thread).
- Updated Oculus Rift PC SDK to version 1.6 and included basic support for the Oculus Touch controllers.
- Improved default settings for the Oculus Rift, to enhance performance.
- Added Simulated VR support for Mac and Linux.

VO 1.8.381 included (two weeks ago):
These changes are for PC (Win/Mac/Linux) platforms only and will be released for the remaining platforms in a future update.
- Added Simulated VR Mode for Windows. The option is located in Options -> Game -> Simulated VR Mode and can be turned on or off. A restart of the game is required for the setting to take effect. When in Simulated VR Mode, use the right-mouse button to look around. When the button is released, the view snaps back to the forward direction.
- Added missing fonts: Michroma, Orbitron-Bold, Raleway-Regular.
- Default to Play-Bold if a font fails to load.
- Fixed the key/button activation of zoom.
- Fixed /fps font size.
- 'Front' and 'Rear' text should no longer appear briefly during sector transitions.
- 'Press the Activate key...' no longer appears at the wrong time when entering sectors.
- Fixed HUD chat box disappearing during jump cinematics.
- Added sector loading progress bar to first-person-cinematics HUD

GearVR Testing Signup now Available.

Vendetta Online for GearVR is about to enter a round of pre-release testing, open to players who already have the required hardware (the older Galaxy Note 4 is not supported). The list signup can be found here:

For any who are unfamiliar, the Samsung GearVR is a VR interface for certain Samsung phones. Our game specifically supports the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 Edge, S7 Edge, or Note 5. Those are currently the only phones currently supported in GearVR by Vendetta Online with mobile VR.

Although the idea of mounting a phone to your face may sound kind of silly, the GearVR actually works really well, and is pretty impressive.

We also strongly recommend a bluetooth gamepad! Like a SteelSeries, Moga Pro, Razer, Nyko, or other. The absolute cheapest bluetooth gamepad is this Sminiker thing from China, which we've never tested, but some people claim is actually usable (probably if you get one that works, which is sort of the risk with bargain off-brand hardware from China).

We have gone to great lengths to make it technically possible to play the Vendetta Online without a gamepad on the GearVR, to at least give an introductory appeal to a large market-share that doesn't have gamepads. But the gameplay experience is substantially degraded compared to what you can do with a gamepad. Any serious VO player should have a gamepad, with GearVR.

Once we accumulate some testers, we'll push out Keys to people, which may then be redeemed via the Oculus App on your GearVR-enabled phone.

Vendetta Online 1.8.380

VO 1.8.380 includes:

These changes are for PC (Win/Mac/Linux) platforms only and will be released for the remaining platforms in a future update.

- New user-selectable fonts for PC platforms, with the new default font set to 'Play-Bold'. Fonts can be selected at Options -> Interface -> Font
- New UI skin called 'Platinum' and it is now the default for PC platforms. The old skin can be set at Options -> Interface -> Skin
- New option to enable first-person warp/jump/launch animations located at Options -> Game -> Cinematic Camera Mode
- Performing 'Activate' will continue certain missions if there is only a 'Continue' button and nothing else to activate.
- Y-B gamepad chord added to open the jettison menu by default.
- Added a shadow behind HUD Notification text for better legibility.
- The blinking docking bay arrows are now angled inwards for easier head-on visibility.
- New head-based flight models for VR.

There are a lot of changes in this update.. far more than one might realize from the changelog. As a result, we would really appreciate people posting bug reports to the Bugs Forum and letting us know of any problems you find.

Patches for other platforms will be coming, but are delayed a little so we don't have to test and monitor every possible version and device during this relatively significant update.

We expect there will be a round of bug-fix releases in the near future, as there usually is with any major codebase change. After that stabilizes, we'll be in a better position to consider doing some gameplay tweaks and the like.

Updates are a-comin'.

We've been building a lot of features over the last eight months, in the push towards a launch on VR, Steam, iPhone and elsewhere. As is often the case when we're rapidly developing, many of these changes have not been pushed into production yet. The amount of time required to carefully commit changes, test them thoroughly across all platforms, and release a patch is basically prohibitive when we're developing quickly; so it's often delayed until later.

We're now approaching the point where we're going to start merging a lot of our development changes and pushing them into production. Some changes will be quite noticeable, others may be more subtle, or are more specific to certain use-cases (like VR). But understand that when you see the changelog for the next-release, there are also a LOT of invisible things changing "under the hood".

Most of the visible changes are client-side stuff, tweaks or bits of polish here and there, and not fundamental gameplay changes. I also (personally) have a huge backlog of gameplay changes to do, so some of those might happen concurrently, but the patches themselves will be more about client-side development. Changes to the default UI "skin", the available fonts, various features and options we built for VR, etc.

We may also "stage" the release, so the patch only hits on PC first, and then another patch follows later for Android/iOS/etc. This can help simplify our testing process.

This past week, we aimed to release an update on Friday (yesterday) with these new changes, but that just proved to be infeasible. The longer we go without a patch, the more testing there is to do, and the more inevitable small bugs or issues we find, so it can take a bit longer to synchronize the development and production versions. Still, I expect we'll get a release out next week, so please keep an eye out, and report any problems you find on the Bugs forum.

Once we get this next update out of the way, we'll potentially be in a better position to work on some gameplay and content related features, which I know is something people are waiting for.

I also have another announcement related to GearVR beta-testing, if players would like to get involved with that, but I'll save that for a separate newspost to be written in the near future.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Policy clarification: Duel cheating.

This should be pretty clear and self-evident without explanation, but to make sure this is well-understood:

Dueling is intended to be a PvP experience between two specific people, represented by two specific characters/accounts. This is why we have a duel ranking system, to illustrate the relative outcomes of these battles, and help players measure their skills against one another.

Two individuals colluding to switch places on one account, so that a relative newcomer who is poor at fighting can then switch out and be replaced by a very strong and experienced player, is considered to be "Fraud", as defined by Section 1.1 paragraph 4 of the Vendetta Online Rules of Conduct. It also damages our entire duel-ranking system, in ways that are challenging to fix, and is generally bad behaviour.

Now, if a single individual wants to roll a new alt-character, and try to behave like a newbie for a long period of time, and pretend to be bad at fighting, and then duel someone and surprise them with their actual skills.. fine, we aren't currently going to raise an issue over that. It skims too close to variants of Role Playing.

But two people colluding together and sharing a character, that crosses way over the line, clearly violates a number of well-known policies, and will receive disciplinary action.

Vendetta Online 1.8.378

VO 1.8.378 includes:

- Fixed voice chat failing to load on Android.
- Fixed lua error when leaving Offline Play mode on all platforms.
- Fixed issue with Vendetta Online not resuming after waking up the Android device and it doesn't have a lock screen, like Android TVs.
- Sony DualShock 4 controllers are now properly detected when connected via Bluetooth.

This is a small interim patch release to fix some problems that have been plaguing people. We're still focused very intensely on our VR goals, so that's taking up much of our time. We expect to get back to game content enhancements as soon as we hit certain milestones, hopefully within the next few weeks. Thanks for the patience, everyone.

April Newsletter: Upcoming VR releases and other news!

If you aren't subscribed to our newsletter, be sure and take a look at the latest via the web. There are a few previews of our current work for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Gear VR, as well as other news and tidbits for the near future.

Vendetta Online 1.8.372-377

VO 1.8.377 included:

- Serco border defense turrets have been added to the Geira Rutilus O-4 wormhole, on the Serco-Deneb border.
- The giant Latos M-7 station has been replaced with something more reasonably sized, to let capship owners get from place to place more quickly.
- Faction standing display and radar-color for ships with multiple docked players now shows the highest standing of any given player onboard the vessel.
- Sporadic rendering glitch, related to shadows and threaded rendering, has been fixed on OSX and Linux.
- Guild member limit increased to 1,000 members.

*** Vendetta 1.8.376
- Improved performance of the DirectX 11 driver by utilizing instanced geometry.
- Fixed rendering glitches when shadows are enabled on the Windows client.
- Fixed issue where multi-threaded rendering wasn't being used the first time the client is run in DirectX 11 mode.
- Fixed crash when logging in while being awarded a ship livery.
- Improved the Offline Training Simulator's initial animation to be more VR-friendly.

*** Vendetta 1.8.375
- Vendetta Online public VR Prototype now has support for Oculus SDK version 1.3, enabling consumer Rift headsets. To allow the game to use the Rift, the Unknown Sources option must be enabled through the Oculus App settings by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right, choosing 'Settings', selecting 'General', and then checking the 'Unknown Sources' option.
- Improved the VR in-station hangar bay.
- Increased general performance of the Windows client.

*** Vendetta 1.8.374
- Fixed lua error when viewing ship liveries under certain conditions.

*** Vendetta 1.8.373
- Small bugfixes and security enhancements.
- Furies are no longer attacked by conquerable station defenses if their owner has IFF rights.

*** Vendetta 1.8.372
- Changed the way the Windows Updater handles missing installed path registry entry.
- Changed Rift Offline Training Simulator initial demo scene and removed black backgrounds of tutorial menus.


Obviously, we haven't been making newsposts for awhile, partially due to GDC travel, and partially because of a lot of "background" releases with good engineering-changes that are not the most exciting from a gameplay standpoint.

But, tonight we pushed an update with a fair number of small gameplay tweaks, and we expect to be doing more of that in the near future. Also, keep an eye out for the Newsletter, which should start to go out sometime this weekend, bringing with it a few further updates on VR, 1.9 and the state of the game. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Server Downtime Today

The Vendetta Online core server cluster experienced a catastrophic filesystem outage today, starting around 1:50pm central, when our Enterprise Cloud provider sustained a major SAN failure. To put it another, simpler way, all of the game servers suddenly had no "harddrives" for an hour or two. Our provider is taking steps to keep this from ever happening again.

In the meantime, the game experienced an extended downtime, and is currently still undergoing maintenance to be sure all of our redundant, distributed databases are consistent. Because of the nature of this particular type of failure, it's very important that we take a little extra time to bring everything back up cleanly.

The game should be back online and available within the hour. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Vendetta Online 1.8.371

VO 1.8.371 includes:

- The "Furie" related missions have been added back into the game.
- Furies no longer target players if they or the targeted player is in the No-Fire Zone. Temp KoS ramifications of Furie actions are now applied to the owner of the Furie, as though the action was performed by that player.
- Removed support for Windows XP.
- Added a CAPTCHA for anyone who is not a premium subscriber and has been logged in for 6 total hours over the previous 12 hours. The CAPTCHA must be solved within 5 minutes, or the player is kicked offline; after which it must be solved the next time the player tries to log in.
- Updated Leap Motion drivers.

We were able to bring back the Furies, in part by creating ramifications for those who command their NPC subordinates to do things that run counter to factional laws. In this way, you will receive Temp KoS for telling a Furie to attack a locally-friendly newbie in guarded space, etc.

If all goes well in testing this system, I'd like to add more to the Trident remote commandset as well, including commands to attack or defend targets, and the like.

Please post to Bugs about any problems you find (or submit tickets for issues that might be exploitable). Thanks!

Vendetta Online 1.8.369-370

VO 1.8.369 and 1.8.370 include:

- Updated Voice Chat, now available again on Mac OS X! (Intel only) Voice Chat quality should also be better, and use less bandwidth, thanks to a new codec (Opus 20kbit).
- Improved pre-release Oculus Rift VR implementation, with new VR ship-cockpit and VR space-station hangar. Please understand, this experience and related graphics are still in development. VR-specific tutorials and other features are still missing.
- Background Detail settings improved, now with Off, Low, Medium, High. The "Medium" setting is similar to the previous "Highest" setting, but uses higher resolution textures. The new "High" setting is similar to the previous "Super High" setting, but is faster to render thanks to some engine optimization. Because of these changes, the Background Detail setting will now reset to the new default for your particular hardware.
- When a player gets kicked offline for logging in when already logged in while in space, their ship now stays around for 1 minute instead of disappearing instantly.
- Added an Account Setup button to the Login menu that includes the ability to request a password recovery email.
- In-game players are now informed of the duration of any mute that has been applied to them.

We drastically updated the Voice Chat system last week, please post any issues you find with it to the Bugs forum. It should be significantly better than at any point previously, but we're still working hard to make it as solid as possible, and will eventually add support to the iOS version as well. We're also looking at expanding the usage of Voice Chat to include large user-created channels; this is something that has been requested for a long time, and we think it will be a bit more feasible with the new Opus codec.

Only players with Oculus Rift devices can see the new prototype VR content, but it's pretty cool. Cockpit views and other graphics may become more generally available, but for the moment we're just working through the process of streamlining the VR user experience. This prototype is still missing much of what's planned for final VR release, but the upside is that it's also acting as the testbed for implementing many of the interface and user experience changes that the game has needed for years.

Have fun, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.368

VO 1.8.368 includes:

- Missions that may only be taken a limited number of times for a given period will now remain visible, but grayed out, when unavailable. A countdown timer indicates when the mission may be taken again.
- Border Patrol now tells Itani players to go to Deneb and records the final destination sector to the mission log.
- Optimized rendering of individual stars in the background.
- Active mission dialog now says to check the mission log for more information, and the nil 'Location' line was removed.

Hopefully the new handling of limited-availability missions will make things a lot clearer to newbies, and also be helpful to veterans. This was raised in a Suggestions post recently, and was pretty fast to do, so we bumped the priority to get it in there.

Speaking of priorities, we have a lot of other big changes going on right now, which are time-sensitive as we need to hit certain release dates that coincide with the shipment of other products. Much of this is VR and immersion related, but the changes we're making go well beyond VR, and this will all be pretty beneficial to the game as a whole.

For example, we recently enhanced the ability of all game interfaces to be located on a panel that "floats" at a particular location in 3D space. This will be of significant value in allowing us to break up interface or HUD mechanics to different locations in a "cockpit" type environment, docked "hangar bay" scene, or other situations which are critical to a VR experience. But while many of these environments and interfaces are primarily targeting VR, we expect they'll also make a lot of people happier who have long wanted features like cockpits and the like.

There are also a number of other benefits that fall out of this enhancement. For instance, floating signs could be interactive interfaces. Race Tracks could show signage with top times, and interactively display other data. To take this to the silly extreme.. with a bit of additional server-communication work, two players could interactively play "pong" over a common interface floating in space, while other players watch.

Don't expect a lot of complex, interactive floating signs to suddenly appear in the immediate future, this is just to underscore that the game's capabilities are evolving, and we expect this all to be of significant benefit, both now and for future work on replacing and re-working the current menu system and user interface experience.

Thanks everyone, have a great weekend.

- Guild Software, Inc.

Forum Policy Changes

In the release last week I had hoped for more gameplay changes to make it into the build. These were delayed, in large part because of some lengthy conversations about behaviour on the Forums. Over the last few years, the general quality of conversation on our forums has declined, due to some negative, attack-driven behaviour that ratcheted up the degree of melodrama, and generally polarized or derailed a number of conversations that might have been otherwise useful. It's also created some volatile situations (like the PK-reset debacle of last October) which used up a tremendous amount of developer time, and would have been far better handled through Support Tickets instead of inflamed public forum threads.

As a result, we've have established new guidelines for forum usage and behaviour (across all forums, including Role Play), which are now being enforced by our volunteer administrators. The specifics are in a sticky-post at the top of the General Forum. Please be aware of, and adhere to these updated, more specific guidelines, as violations will result in being muted on individual threads, across individual forums, the messageboard as a whole, or even administrative action that impacts access to the game.

The last thing we want to do is mute or ban anyone, but things have gotten really out of hand lately, so some action is needed. The forums are intended to be a positive place for the community to give constructive feedback and suggestions about the game, and plan community events and the like. Obviously this can work well, as evidenced by some of the new content in the last patch. But while it's good that people have strong opinions about the game and its process of evolution, keep the discussions civil: debate the idea on its own merits, and not the individual posting the idea. Avoid attacking entire play-styles, but find a way to logically express how a change could improve and balance the game to the benefit of everyone.

Thanks everyone.

- Guild Software, Inc.