FAQ » Gameplay

Was your game inspired by (enter game here)?
Will Vendetta Online always feature realtime combat?
Is there permanent character death?
How big is the Universe?

Was your game inspired by (enter game here)?

Our principal designer, John Bergman, was inspired by the old Wing Commander games (1 and 2), as well as the famous LucasArts titles, X-Wing and Tie Fighter. Other games such as the great Black Isle RPGs (the Fallout series, etc), the old Westwood game Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception, and others have also had their impact on us.

Although we frequently hear from our userbase about what they believe inspired our gameplay, we never played Elite, Escape Velocity (or had even heard of EV, before our initial Mac release), or the various other games they expect, other than those mentioned above. We also hear from some about similarities to JumpGate, but it's important to remember that our timeline began in 1998.. we were contemporaries of theirs. They were better funded, and able to get a publisher much sooner than we were (although it ended up going very badly for them, we were sorry to hear that), so most people associate their title as being much earlier than ours. At the time of their beta, we had the advantage in graphics, but their gameplay was much more fully realized (an area in which we still have work to do, to this day). We have a very positive and friendly/respectful attitude towards the other companies in the sci-fi/MMO world, including NetDevil (JG) and CCP (EVE), but our games are not related.

Will Vendetta always feature realtime combat?

Yes. Real-time "twitch" combat, and non-optional PvP are two fundamental hallmarks of Vendetta Online. They are not for everyone, and we accept that. However, we make an effort to keep our game viable for many different play styles. We simply avoid "absolutes", as we dislike the very unrealistic concepts of "absolute safety" or one player being "absolutely better" than another who just started. Would would rather have many shades of grey, many variations of "more" and "less" safe, and more or less skilled, to better reflect our universe's goal as more of a "real" place. This is much more difficult to achieve than the traditional absolutes that are found in most games (and especially MMOs), but we think it's a goal worthy of the extra headaches and design complexities.

Is there permanent character death?

No, we do not currently have, or plan on, anything like permanent character death. We do not see it as significantly beneficial to the game. There are repurcussions of death, and it can be expected that those will evolve, and change, and perhaps become more of a factor as time goes on. For the moment, lives are pretty expendable, and that's for the best in the current state of the game.

How big is the universe?

There are currently 7,681 "sectors", with 256 sectors per solar-system. Each sector is an area defined by X/Y/Z coordinates that are centered at 0,0,0 (the origin, where most of the "stuff" in the sector is usually found) and limited only by the precision of floating point math. It is actually possible to fly out far enough to where the imprecisions can become visible (the ship jittering from an external camera), but it takes about a week of continually flying in a single direction to do. So, strictly speaking, our universe is.. well, extremely large.

Technologically, our universe is a pretty simple (and these days, common) design, where each sector is a process on a server cluster. As sectors are used, processes are started, and as they become idle (players leave) the sectors shut down. Thus, at any given time only a tiny fraction of our total universe is actually "running" on our server cluster, and the running processes are balanced across the cluster based on individual machine load and memory utilization. The total capacity of the cluster can easily be increased by simply plugging in more machines and turning them on (not unlike Google, and other newer grid-computing designs). The benefits of this system is that it's extremely easy for us to expand the universe in new ways, and this is very important to us, as true "exploration" has always been one of our goals. Given that we can procedurally generate sector content, it's possible for us to feasably create a truly "unknown" universe of nearly limitless size. To date, we have not done so, as there are too many other pressing gameplay needs that take priority. But in the long run.. we very much want to let people explore the unknown, and sprinkle it with new things for them to find (new races, content, etc).

On a final technical note, the latest generation of MMO server designs are even better yet in their scalability and architecture, where the granularity of an "area" is much more flexible. This is advantageous, as a busy (server-intensive) "region" of land or space can be dynamically split based on load, among several machines; instead of limited by a process with predefined "controlled space" on a single machine in the cluster. So, in essence, the smallest "servable" area of space becomes limited by a much smaller bound than just an arbitrary grid (or in the case of EverQuest and other games, an arbitrarily defined "zone"). Our game is also moving in this direction, as we begin to use lightweight Erlang threads to more flexibly spread the total load around the cluster. Our original architecture has worked well for us, and was pretty good for the era in which it was made (nearly a decade ago), but our game is a constant evolutionary process.. both in the visible gameplay and in the (hopefully) invisible back-end.