Vendetta Online 1.8.575-576

VO 1.8.576 includes (tonight):

- Six new missions, three of them lower-level in Nation space, three
higher-levels in Grayspace.
- Leviathans are now excluded from the player-capship turret-drop
- Fixed a problem with missile turrets firing too quickly.
- Fixed issues when attempting to launch from a capship and enter a
turret at the same time.
- Fixed issue with storm exit points possibly being inside asteroids.
- Fixed UI issues with AndroidTV devices.
- Improvements to various game analytics.

VO 1.8.575 included (last weekend):

- Six new missions have been added to the game: two Itani, two Serco and two UIT. Each of them requires Combat License 4 or better.
- Android version now includes improved experimental background-threaded loading for ES3 renderer. All asset types can now be background-loaded into the GPU.
- "/report" command may now be used by Freemium players, and should be the preferred standard for reporting in-game toxicity or other issues.
- Android now uses the "logo-style" game patcher, and does not show the patch notes (for the moment).
- Further tutorial streamlining experiments with the Android version.
- Removed "Replay" options in Android tutorials.
- Button highlighting changes on the Android version, to make selection a little more obvious.
- Fixed issue with animated green line in the Nav Menu.
- Removed asynchronous background loading support from ES2 devices (Android) to try and fix reported ES2 problems on older hardware.
- Improvements to various game analytics.

Please note the "/report" system now being available to everyone, including Free players. People should use it thoughtfully and with care; but that is the appropriate way of reporting in-game abuse, toxicity and other chat issues, because it inherently includes the chat itself with the Report.

Hopefully everyone enjoys the twelve new missions in the game! Many thanks to Phaserlight for that. Anyone else who would like to try their hand at creating missions should investigate the PCC (Player Contribution Corps), linked from the game website (you must be logged into the site with your game account).

Beyond that, a lot of other development swirling around, as we try to wrap up some of our technical goals with background asset-loading and other features, which will prove critical to new content in the future.

If you find any Bugs, please post about them on the Bugs Forum.

Also, be sure to stop by for the Corporate Sector Run on Saturday, and Nation War on Sunday! Plus a mining Event called Corvus Mineral Research coming up on the 27th.

Vendetta Online 1.8.574

VO 1.8.574 includes:

- Added experimental CPU-side background-loading of collision models and textures on Windows.
- Background-loading of collision models added to Android's existing ability to background-load textures.
- Fixed crash on MacOS X 10.11 and earlier when reading the Locale.
- Changed Android model asset compression to now load more quickly.
- Added more internal analytics to the Android version, to debug loading-speed issues.
- Updated Android's background-downloading library.
- Experimentally removed localized-language warning dialogs from Android versions.

More tentative releases of major technical updates in the client, intended to make a lot of new functionality possible.

For example, while on first glance it may appear that the background-loading is primarily around performance during sector changes, it's also about adding the ability to offer more textural diversity to the universe. "Liveries", for instance, aka "ship skins", are far easier to increase in variety, and handle in large numbers, when they can be loaded in the background across all platforms. Visual differences of ships, enemies, even regions of space become simpler to accomplish, and seamlessly smooth to execute.

The final steps here will be improvements to the Vulkan, ES3 and DX11 drivers, to bring asynchronous texture updates, of all assets, completely into the GPU. That work is still on-going, and was not deemed stable for tonight's release, but should appear in the near future.

Have a great weekend, all.

Vendetta Online 1.8.573

VO 1.8.573 includes:

- Reduced PCB shot-lifespan from 3s to 2s (range from 645m to 430m).
- Reduced TU mine energy requirement from 500 to 100.
- Android has new experimental asynchronous background loading of game assets from disk, to shorten sector-jump load times, and reduce the need for pre-loading assets.
- Improved and fixed a variety of internal analytics, to help debug game loading times and other issues.
- Android: Updated Google Play Games Services library.
- Android: Google Play Games Services are no longer initialized on the first game runtime.

The new experimental "asynchronous background loading" should be very helpful to a lot of people and use cases, and seems to be considerably faster to load data during sector-jumps. It is in testing on Android, and will later be rolled out to other platforms. It's particularly beneficial in combination with the load-time improvements that were rolled out on Android last-week.

The system uses background threads, configured based on the number of CPU-cores offered by your device or system. Because the loading is a bit different to predict, the old "progress bar" for jumps has been replaced, at least for the moment, by "progress dots" that mainly indicate that something is happening. Given that the new system is still faster to load sectors *overall*, this was considered a worthwhile trade-off.

More substantial changes to gameplay are coming, but we needed to get through some of this technical development to make other types of gameplay possible in the future.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.572

VO 1.8.572 includes:
- Improved startup load time on Android.
- Android version now includes descriptions of what is being loaded at startup and has individual progress bars for them.

This is one of those "minor looking" releases, which understates both the long-term value it adds to the game, and the complexity of development required to implement it.

Just on measured Android load-time improvement, we've gone from an average Android startup-time of over 40 seconds, to somewhere under 15 seconds. In itself, that's a pretty big deal, and we aren't even done improving that yet.

This is very important, because a lot of Android users appear to install the game to cheap MicroSD cards, which are quite slow. The game prefers installation to "internal" memory on devices, which is almost always faster; but a lot of people want to save the internal space, and they move the game without understanding the impact that will have on performance (at startup, between sectors, and elsewhere).

So, we've gone to some lengths to try and speed up the loading of the game overall, partially because it is critically important for brand-new users. A lot of new players will just "bail out" and uninstall a game that takes too long to load the first time, something we've seen from our analytics.

But, overall, these improvements will be helpful to all platforms in the future, as we are simply using Android as a test-case for improving performance everywhere.

Faster loading doesn't just impact game startup times, but also loading times when someone *else* jumps into your current sector, or moving between sectors. It brings us closer to possibility of "no loading on jump", particularly with improvements to asynchronous "background" loading that are currently in development.

All of that opens up a lot of possibilities, in terms of changing the assets and universe of the game, and important aspects of future gameplay. It fits in with the "network streaming" functionality that was added in 2020 to improve load-times. Both features work together to enable a more persistent, immersive and complex universe.

Vendetta Online 1.8.570-571

VO 1.8.571 includes (today):
- Turrets now use a unique auto targeting system that triggers firing when the target is in view of the turret, but the center-of-mass is out of view, to enable more effective fire against large ships. This is true of both "ActivateTurrets" automation, as well as NPC turrets.
- Turrets using "ActivateTurrets" automation will now always fire homing-missile weapons, as long as the target is within distance range, and within the *weapon's* field-of-view. For Swarms, this is 180 degrees, meaning they will always fire.
- Fixed bug with "ActivateTurrets" not correctly utilizing the Turret field-of-view limits for Energy and Projectile based weapons (such as railguns).
- Android initial loading screens now solely show the game logo and progress bar.
- Android now loads and pre-caches less texture-data on startup, to improve game startup times.
- Fixed MacOS crash on Vulkan driver, when entering the joystick deadzone menu.
- Green scanner effect now renders properly with DirectX 11 and Vulkan drivers.

VO 1.8.570 included (earlier this week):
- Android now uses an experimental multi-threaded loading system, to improve startup performance.
- Android first-time game startup has been experimentally simplified, solely for new users.
- Android streamlining of initial game tutorials: some changed, some removed.
- Android version now has progressive blinking dots under the loading progress bar: shows app is not frozen, if loading is slow.
- Android internal analytics improvements, to measure slow-startup problems.
- All Android versions (HD and non-HD) now detect CPU core-count and have some limited multi-threading.
- Improvements to cross-platform game build-and-release backend infrastructure.

Between these and a few bugfix patches: a whole lot of releases this past week.

First of all, some explanation of the altered situation with Turrets. It came to our attention that there was a greater disparity between player-turrets and automated "ActivateTurrets" than we realized, partially because of actual code bugs, and partially because of some design and implementation problems.

It was always intended that these would have feature-parity with one another, and today's release takes some steps in that direction:

1) Turrets automated with "ActivateTurrets" will now fire on targeted enemies more aggressively, when using Energy and Projectile weapons, because the "center" of the enemy no longer has to be within the turret's field of view. Some part of the target still needs to be visible to the turret, but it will be "willing" to fire in many more circumstances, including close-proximity battles with large vessels, like player capital ships.

2) Turrets will now "effectively" fire Swarms whenever requested, using ActivateTurrets, as the system now uses the homing missile's field-of-view (which is basically "everywhere" for a Swarm missile), instead of the turret's field-of-view. This makes defensive use of Swarms more usable on capships, and negates the need to turret-hop or other technique to manually activate them. Homing missiles other than Swarms are limited by the missile's own field-of-view, and most of them do not have the "everywhere" visibility of Swarms, so they may or may not fire, depending on the location of the target.

3) Both situations (Energy / Projectile weapons, and Homing Missiles) will still fundamentally check the "range" of a given target, so the ActivateTurrets implementation may still choose to not-fire, if the enemy is too far away.

People should be using ActivateTurrets, and not other solutions, as scripted options around Turrets are likely to go away. There are a number of reasons for this, but they include needing a certain amount of control over Turret firing characteristics, both to maintain Player-vs-NPC parity, as well as making sure we can guarantee scalability in certain server conditions. We've done a lot of testing of large capital ship battles, and "rate of fire" is a major factor in server impact.

Similarly, we know there have been those using turrets to manually fire "forward", but expect that to become less feasible. Instead, we'll be more interested in creating actual heavy weapons, to be front-mounted on capships, for more aggressive usage. This will be instead of using combined turrets, because the total amount of combined firepower will quickly become a problem for larger and more complex capital ships. Even a Constellation could do tremendous damage, let alone something like a Capella. This then becomes a really serious issue to balance, because we cannot put aggressive limits on Turret usage via powercells or other factors.. without also impacting capship defensive capabilities (which is the intended usage of Turrets).

Instead, expect things more along the lines of the Teradon (firing the "golden sphere" primary weapons): high-powered weaponry with massive trade-offs, like slow projectile speed or other defensive / consumptive balancing factors. Slow-moving torpedoes that can be shot-down, not turret-mounted railguns that do incredible combined damage, with little chance to evade.

"Broadsides" from turrets will probably be a viable tactic, particularly for ships with higher turret density, that have more defensive than offensive loadout. And that is, specifically, well-suited to the ActivateTurrets system.

The ActivateTurrets mechanism is not cast-in-stone, and respectful feedback is still welcome on the Suggestions forum. But, that should be the main focus of on-going interest, and not historical scripting systems built around turrets or multiple clients, which will become deprecated.

That's all for now, plus a Newsletter is likely to be forthcoming in the near future. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Vendetta Online 1.8.569

VO 1.8.569 included (yesterday and today):

- Capship turret ammo gets properly reloaded when the pilot enterstheir turret.
- Turrets now drain the ship's energy when used by passengers.
- Stacked crates in space now have a unique timeout for each set of items stacked into the crate.
- The quantity of crates in space are now properly updated in the HUD Target info panel when the quantity changes.
- Refactored the way remote capships are moved between sectors. This should prevent commands sent to the capship from getting lost if it is in mid-jump.
- Teller-Ulam Mines now have a much larger concussive force, within the same concussive range. Explosive damage is unchanged.
- Capital Ship Swarm Launchers and Turrets now require 500 energy to fire (per volley). This is actually a slight reduction in the previous energy requirements of Swarm Turrets.

The last two updates here were pushed later today, while most of the rest of the release shipped yesterday.

As always, polite feedback and ideas are welcome on Suggestions, which is where both of these changes came from. That's all for now, have a great weekend.

Server Side Updates: Capship Turrets

As of tonight, destruction of Hive vessels by fire from Capship Turrets will result in a drastically reduced chance of their dropping rarer items, like Synthetic SilkSteel.

It should be noted that, since last week, these same rarer items are no longer displayed in the bot's scannable cargo manifest, as other mechanism now after to determine whether or not they will spawn. Thus, the fact that a bot does not show Synthetic SilkSteel as cargo, does not mean that they won't drop it.

Vendetta Online 1.8.568

VO 1.8.568 includes:

- Remote Capship commands may again be issued by owners, from inside of Turrets.
- Certain Hive drops, like those commonly used in Capital Ship manufacturing, now have absolute per-unit-time drop limits, per-sector. This means that once a sector stops producing specific drops, no more will appear until a time limit expires. Both the drop-limit and the time-limit are randomized within ranges, varying across sectors. If a sector has been exhausted, it will be best to avoid that sector for a few hours. In this way, intensive "farming" activity of Hive drops will need to move from sector-to-sector, over time, to achieve successful yields. The absolute quantity of possible yield is defined server-side, regardless of the number of players or the technique involved.
- Sectors now send analytics when their drop limits have been hit, for a particular item, giving developer insight on the locations that are commonly reaching existing limits (limits may be adjusted, across the galaxy, while the server is online).
- "Emergency" restrictions on Capships, from earlier this week, which impacted drops from enemy ships, have been removed.
- Capship Turrets no longer increment the "kill" counters.
- Additional analytics added to the client, measuring startup problems, tutorial progress, and initial performance.
- Following player feedback, ES3 Android devices have been reverted to disable Dynamic Lights and Dynamic Shadows by default. Players wishing to directly configure the options can find them in Options, Advanced, Video.

Another week unfortunately marred by reports of player-exploits, and a lot of associated usage of development time.

On late Weds night we received the reports, and locked down the ability of Capital Ships to be used to generate rare bot-drops from bot kills. This ability has since been restored, as of tonight.

We've also taken a new "drop" system, which has been in Production testing with the extremely-uncommon "Rarified Heliocene Alloy" since last-year, and expanded it to include a number of other, better-known drops used in the Manufacturing process of various goods and items.

This system allows direct control over the quantity of drops that can be generated per-unit-time, as explained above. The exact limits won't be disclosed, and they are randomized both in quantity and in the length of time that a sector may be "depleted". The definition of these values will continue to be tweaked as time goes on.

It is the intention for this system to only function as an "emergency brake" against future exploits and "farming" concerns. There's always a risk of an "economy of scale" problem in an MMORPG, due to inherent player organization and communication.

Goal is to further enhance the native reactions of the Hives to large-scale aggression, and other more evident tweaks to gameplay, to create a robust enough "sliding scale" of difficulty to keep people from easily bumping against the absolute limits. These changes to the Hives are not in place yet, and will take some time to roll out over the coming weeks.

The hard-limits themselves can be adjusted on-the-fly, or even automatically adjusted by the game when measuring other parameters, to deal with situations like In-Game Events or unusually high player concurrency.

We've also shipped a new Android APK tonight, with more functionality in testing, prior to a wider Mobile update.

That's all for now, have a great weekend, everyone.

Server Side Updates

As of last night, a couple of server-side updates were pushed into the game:

- Remote capship commands are no longer cancelled when the owner docks with the capship.
- New, additional Corporate Sector Run race, scheduled for 9am UTC (4am CDT), 12 hours after the main race at 9pm UTC (4pm CDT).
- Improvements to server-side analytics.

Please report any bugs or issues on the Bugs forum, or use Support Tickets for exploitable problems. Thanks.

Latos Economy Rollback

Earlier this week, we discovered major problems in the "new" Latos dynamic economy, which were causing items to be priced at a small fraction of their intended value. This problem had been present for some time.

The economy was reverted to a prior working model, earlier in the week and is currently in a "reasonably sane" state.

This problem was not reported to us. For some players, this is could be understandable. They might simply be unaware of common pricing differentials in the universe.

For other players, however, it's difficult to understand how this bug was missed. Certain people, among the most experienced traders in the game, were able to generate nearly a Billion credits in a week, using casual trading with a single system jump, and focusing *purely* on this specific problem.

Here's the thing, if you're currently able to solo-generate a Billion credits a week, with fairly casual trading, this is not an indicator of you being a "Trade Genius", it means something is "broken" and should probably be reported.

Because of the large-scale exploitation of the issue, we've spent the last several days doing forensic tracing of every the outcome of every related trade made by every player: people who prefer to hold goods in storage as-goods, people who trade for player-items, people who move credits into their guilds, etc.

We have chosen to roll-back the profits of only the "top" individuals in this case, the ones with the most drastic profits, which is only six players. We have not completely removed all profits, but we have "adjusted" them to match what the outcome *would* have been, if the pricing had been correct, and made a generalized assumption of "profit". This is a pretty positive outcome for those involved, we did not "zero out" the revenue, or take punitive action, we've simply "normalized" things.

The application of this action is different for each individual player, because of how the resulting profits had been moved around. In some cases, we simply removed credits from the given character's bank. In other cases, they had moved their credits to other accounts, and we removed it from those locations. For some people, who held large quantities of "items" in storage, without selling them, we removed an equivalent number of the items. Still others had given large quantities of credits to their guilds, we removed those funds.

As a result of the time-consuming forensic research that went into this, all development was halted earlier this week. We had planned for a number of improvements and updates to debut this week, but as of right now, we're not sure what (if anything) will end up being released tonight.

To make that point a little clearer, let me remind people that "Vendetta Online" is practically unique within the game-industry: a cross-platform MMORPG with a 100% custom in-house engine and back-end, developed by an indie team.

As a result, we have always (necessarily) relied on our userbase to make decisions that are in the best interests of the game "as a whole", as opposed to the benefit of the individual, specifically when it comes to the reporting of exploitable bugs. To some this might seem naive, but for the most part, through our two decades of development, players have lived up to this need. We really cannot do this development without a certain amount of "big picture" altruism from the players, because the related development and testing requirements would be infeasibly high.

Developing and rolling out dynamic economic structures is a complex and challenging issue. Devaluing our currency does nothing to improve the game. We really need (and expect) people to report serious issues when you find them.

Vendetta Online 1.8.567

VO 1.8.567 includes:

- Capital Ship commanders may now focus turret fire onto a single selected target. The turrets may be bound to a single key or button, like "/bind l +ActivateTurrets". Then, with a single target selected, and that button depressed, any turret that can "see" the target within its respective active field-of-view will fire upon the target. Projectile and energy turret weapons will not fire on targets beyond their maximum range (missile turrets will fire).
- Capital Ship turrets now utilize energy from the central Powercell (Reactor, etc), of a given capship. This is only partially implemented, at the moment, and most weapons still don't use much energy, if any. But, you can expect this to become a factor in due course. This may eventually impact shield strength as well (effectively an offense vs defense tradeoff, based on energy availability).
- Android touch and TV devices with the ES3 renderer will now have Two Lights and Shadows enabled by default. If you wish to disable this, for increased framerate, you can find the settings in Options -> Advanced -> Video.
- Completely new Default touch control flight interface, solely in testing on Android. Existing control configurations will be maintained, but anyone wanting to try the new defaults (recommended), should go into Options -> Advanced -> Controls -> Touch and hit "Defaults". It will utilize..
- Half the touch-screen is now dedicated to steering inputs, which can be made anywhere on that half of the screen (the right side, by default). Touch-to-select on remote objects no longer functions on the "steering" side of the screen, although we will try to add this back in before long, it requires some experimentation. The buttons on the right-side of the screen will continue to work.
- "Touch Look Mode", similar to Mouselook on PC, allows high-precision input on the touchscreen to exceed the turning capabilities of the ship, but the ship will turn to match the new heading.
- "Relative Touch Origin" will consider the point of touch as the "center" of the touch region, instead of the visual-center of the area. Better for adaptation for differing size devices (and various sized thumbs), as well as preventing instant movement on first-touch.
- "Delta Movement" measures the change in movement, instead of accumulating the changes, making it feel more like a "mouse". You may have to lift-up and re-touch if you hit the edges of the input area, but with the new Input Sensitivity settings, this is fairly infrequent.
- Aim Sensitivity range increased from 0-2x up to 0-20x. This extended range is pointlessly "sensitive" for the joystick-style input methods, but is very useful for the mouse-style input, which now defaults to 10x.
- Aim Input Filtering is now enabled by default, this is an existing option that helps smooth out the very high-frequency mouse-style input. It adds a very slight increase in latency, but that is outweighed by the improved smoothness in camera motions.
- Aim Sensitivity curve set to Linear.
- Android Tutorials have been lightly modified to be more compatible with the new default control / flight model. More substantial updates are coming; we know the voice-overs are a little inaccurate now. This is basically a wide-area testing phase as we redo the "early game experience".
- Notes on new input: Whether one prefers the new-default "mouse-look" style, or wants to retain the prior "joystick" style, the new settings give a lot of options and a lot of improvement for either case. For those seeking a joystick-style touch experience, enabling Touch Look Mode and Relative Touch Origin, but disabling Delta Movement, and using a directional aiming curve like Vector Linear can result in an improvement over the previous defaults. But, overall, we believe the new virtual-mouse "Default" style to be the best option.
- The Improved touch-control options will come to iOS, once we fully test and tune them on Android. Releasing on iOS is a bit more arduous, compared to Android, hence the "early" testing on the latter.
- Fix for bug with the CSR race: any registered participant who dies prior to the race start must be homed in the starting sector, or risk forfeit.
- Power consumption of the Capital Rail Cannon has been reduced from 1000 to 250.

Obviously, some really significant changes here. It's important to remember that VO is always in a state of flux. There are a lot of different changes in motion, and not all of them can launch at the same release; we just don't have the development resources to do that (or, alternatively, we would have to release once-a-year). So, for certain categories of gameplay, things will get better with one release, then get worse with another, then get better again, as different pieces become available and the overall system comes into focus.

Capships have always been a heavy work-in-progress. They started originally as kind of a "hackjob" feature, made at loud player-request, and they didn't really work very well. They've evolved a lot since then, and will continue to do so, before the situation is in place that really merits a greater variety and availability of capship types and usage cases. There are still a lot of changes coming, some of them pretty "major", before we'll get closer to their actual intended design.

If you find any genuine Bugs, please let us know via the Bugs forum (or create a Ticket if it's exploitable). If you have feedback on gameplay direction, then the Suggestions forum is the best bet (but keep things positive and friendly).

Hopefully the new Android interface changes will be helpful to people. We'll be watching a lot of our analytics data, but direct feedback is also welcome on Suggestions.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.565-566

VO 1.8.566 includes (tonight):
- Fixed Border Skirmish capships going to the wrong sectors when the battle is over.
- Fixed issue with cancelled Access Key deletion CAPTCHA causing CAPTCHA to appear at next login of the same client run.
- Non-Premium idle-timeout CAPTCHA now functions the same as all others, and will fail on "Escape".
- Fixed issue with "Getting characters..." menu sometimes appearing on top of the Character Select menu.
- Failed login attempts now fully disconnect from the server.
- iOS App Store update with improved login times and fixes.

VO 1.8.565 included (last week):
- Improved robustness of macOS and iOS In-App Purchases.
- Fixed internal analytics on iOS.
- Fixed issue with Account Info menu not showing proper active status

A lot of bugfixes, along with further measurement and improvements (behind the scenes) to make the game more robust for new players. Also, trying to push Mac-store updates, but running into challenges, due to subtle platform changes and updates from Apple. Anyway, hopefully those headaches and delays will be resolved before long.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Vendetta Online 1.8.564

VO 1.8.564 includes:

- Capship under attack messages now include the name of the attacker and notifies the owner when its shields go down.
- Added progress bar to "Getting Characters" and "Entering Universe" menus seen when logging in.
- Station ship purchase tutorial now resumes at the proper point if the client restarts or the player closes the Options menu.
- Android changes to further streamline the new user experience.
- Fixed issue where passengers were ejected from a capship when the owner takes control of it.
- Fixed issue where players were unable to enter a broken sector.
- Fixed issue where bots may stop attacking player capships with passengers.
- Fixed issue where a player's remote capship disappears if they log into a sector when their active ship is a capship and the remote capship is in the same sector.
- TyCorp Assaults can now attack in pairs.

A wide variety of small fixes and improvements, following up from the major internal updates last-week. Please continue to keep us posted about any Bugs you find, via the Bugs forum. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Vendetta Online - July Newsletter

The latest Newsletter is out, covering a number of recent topics:

This includes details around:
- Sammic Ore
- Deneb Cross-Galaxy Teleportation
- Capship Improvements
- The Cargo Tractor Beam
- Instant and Guild Notifications
- Faction Standing updates
- Joystick and Gamepad improvements
- An update on Localization and Menu development

Plus other information. Take a look!

Vendetta Online 1.8.563

VO 1.8.563 includes:

- Fixed Storm Radar Extender not using the correct Grid Usage.
- Fixed Deneb War unaligned fighters not attacking their target if the target changes sectors.
- Fixed issue when trying to command the remote capship at the same time it is jumping between sectors.

More changes in the works, but mostly just focusing on stability and bugfixes for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone!