Vendetta Online 1.8.479

VO 1.8.479 includes:
- Launching from a personal capital ship will no longer cause homing missiles targeted on that capital ship to "lose" their lock, and the missiles will continue targeting your capital ship.
- The firing field-of-view of the Capital Rail Cannon has been reduced from 180 to 160 degrees. This may help mitigate its value as a forward-facing "assault" weapon. The FoV of all other capital ship turret weapons have not been changed.
- The Centurion Superlight may now be purchased (if it is in-stock) in Latos N2, by pilots who have completed the Hive Research mission with Corvus. Prices for the Superlight may fluctuate considerably.
- Deneb battles are now off-limits to players who have not joined either the Itani or Serco Militaries, and who are not taking the Mission related to the specific battle sector. Un-aligned "neutral" vessels will be attacked, including un-piloted capital ships.
- New Weapon: the Corvus Ultra Positron Blaster, a small-port, 18-grid, de-tuned variant of the MegaPosi. It is available in Corvus stations to tri-KoS pilots at 8/8, who have passed the "Hive Research" mission.
- The performance of server-side Physics interactions, in large capital ship battles, has been improved significantly.

We've been trying to ship this release for almost two weeks, so we're happy this is finally out. I'm sure it will have some controversy, so let me touch on a few points..

The change to the Caprail FoV has been in process since September. I was concerned when we made the turret FoVs 180 degrees, that the caprail specifically would be overpowered, and that I had no real way to balance its value as a "single turret" against its new value as an "unified assault weapon". The FoV change was the simplest additional mechanic, but it actually took quite awhile to implement, because the FoVs of turrets were deeply hard-coded.

This change was not made because of any specific player, or usage, as I said it's been in-process for quite awhile. But it should be understood that Capital Ships are not yet in a place where they are configurable enough, from the developer side, to be rolled out as assault-craft. Basically, they can't be "balanced" very well yet. It's very easy to make such an "assault" level capital ship quite over-powered, which means they need to be mitigated with concepts like finite ammo, tradeoffs with energy versus shield strength (or choosing temporary shield shutdown) and other factors to make them intriguing, yet properly-integrated into the game. Capships should (sometimes) be awesome and fearsome sources of high-grade firepower, but also vulnerable to a greater variety of Torpedo class weapons, and with their own set of challenges and factors to mitigate their capabilities.

We have plans for all of this, and letting people use "turrets" as offensively-aligned weapons was just a quick tweak to see how it would work, and what the ramifications of fully-automated turrets might be. It's been interesting and helpful for this. But, there are very few aspects of Vendetta Online that are not subject to on-going tweaking and adjustment, based on testing.

Some people submitted tickets about the turret FoV change, which changed back on November 30th, as "bugs". Those tickets went un-answered because, frankly, we kept thinking the release was going to ship every day, which would clarify the issue, and it kept not-shipping. Sorry about that.

The changes to Deneb will hopefully improve the battles. If spectating is desired, we might add a "spectator" mode that one could take as missions from one of the nearby Stations. We'll likely be introducing other balance changes to Deneb, in general, and also greater ramifications to the side who wins or loses. But in the meantime, this mitigation was a starting point.

We intend to keep expanding the value and usage of the Latos N2 prototype economy, and fixing things related to that. Much like the Capital Ships, it actually needs more developer-side tune-ables before it can go fully prime-time. We are working on that. In the meantime, things like the Superlight are an interesting test-case, and we're open to hearing more about other challenges and enhancements of the system, via the Suggestions Forum.

The improvements to server-side Physics are quite significant, and will hopefully allow us to continue to expand the scale and scope of the game, and should have a long-term beneficial impact on both player and NPC capital ships.

That's all for now, Happy Holidays everyone.

Advancements in Server Architecture

We've been making a lot of changes lately, quietly behind-the-scenes and without shipping any normal "patches".

These changes have been primarily on the server, rather than the game client. As we discussed in the October newsletter, we've made a lot of recent changes to the game client that have really enhanced performance and efficiency, and some of these changes also make sense to apply to the server itself.

You see, the performance of a given sector is a limiting factor on what kind of content can take place there. How many bots can be flying around, or what they can be doing. The number of asteroids and debris floating to and fro, the complexity of station or mission mechanics; all these things are controlled by the Sector Daemon, that process that maintains authority over a particular area of geographical space.

Vendetta Online's server has always been fairly efficient, but in the interest of adding a lot of complex new gameplay, and giving us more opportunities and options to really scale-up some intriguing new scenarios, we wanted to work on enhancing the performance.

Thus far, we've managed to see some big gains. The measured increase in performance depends on what kind of work-load is being run, but so far we've seen improvements between 2x and 10x. This is thanks to a couple of major developments: big efficiency changes in our own code, based on profiling and testing; as well as moving the Sector Daemon's internal Lua programming language from standard "interpreted" Lua 5.1, to LuaJIT, a high-performance just-in-time compiled version.

Although there have been some differences and issues we've had to track down as a result of these changes (which made for some quirky problems last weekend), the final upshot is that we can now handle a LOT more activity within a given sector, on the same amount of Server CPU, while actually using less Server RAM. Similarly, Sector Daemons can now more-efficiently utilize large numbers of CPU cores, if necessary. All of that is a good thing for everyone, and particularly for next-generation gameplay.

Have you ever wondered what it might look like if every Collector Drone in a sector decided to attack you at once? Drop into Latos F-12 and see 300 Artemis Collectors that will all attack you on-sight. This unique, static test-sector exists just to see how things work with larger numbers of enemies, and what problems or ramifications emerge for players. The sector could handle more than 300, but this is a reasonable test-case for now.

This simplistic test-case does NOT mean we're aiming to have huge clouds of Collector Drones roaming around for no reason. But it does mean that we can make more reactive and interesting gameplay under some circumstances, and aim for much larger space battles, complex station-city environments, more complex AI, and the like. Ever seen a movie with thousands of ships in a massive real-time battle, and wonder what it might be like to fly through that? We'd like to see that too.

Vendetta Online has a lot of inherent capability in its custom, tightly-compressed network protocol, which dates from an earlier era when bandwidth was in far shorter supply. As a result, we've had some success with testing of "very large scale" situations, with only relatively modest bandwidth requirements for the players and server. There's still a lot more testing to be done, particularly with players in "the wild", but thus far we're pretty optimistic about our results.

With some luck, we may be able to build something that no one has ever seen in an MMO before..

Vendetta Online 1.8.477

VO 1.8.477 includes:

- Rescaled VR cockpit to a more realistic size, for the Oculus Rift.
- Fixed crash when using Vulkan driver.
- Added a reporting system for framerate issues. If you are experiencing unusually low framerates, open a support ticket and we can tell you how to use it.

Vendetta Online 1.8.476

VO 1.8.476 includes:

- Fixed lua error when attempting to change dead zones of controllers.
- Fixed lua error when attempting to save HUD settings in VR mode on Android.
- Fixed crash when switching to new Vulkan driver.
- Fixed flickering issue when using Vulkan driver in full-screen mode.
- Fixed bug with not properly reusing font cache under certain conditions.
- Reverted some recent changes to track down performance loss.

If you experience any unusually bad framerate behaviour (test with "/fps"), please post about it on the Bugs Forum. We've had some intermittent reports of framerate issues, but we have not yet reproduced any actual problems on any devices in-house.

Vendetta Online 1.8.475

VO 1.8.475 includes:

- Fixed issue with mining beam effect not staying connected to ships.
- Fixed memory leak.
- Goliath powercell grid changed from 125 to 55
- Hive Queen top speed increased from 140 to 180
- Hive Queen turbo thrust increased from 1640 to 16400
- Hive Queen braking thrust increased from 1290 to 12900
- Stronghold-specific Hive Queen blaster powercell drain increased from 80 to 160
- TPG Goliath description changed to remove the term "freighter", as all VO ships are multi-role.

Still a lot of technical work going on in the background, major changes and improvements to the physics engine, which could have far-reaching implications for future large-scale gameplay.

Vendetta Online 1.8.474

VO 1.8.474 includes:
- Windows version is now using new experimental multi-threaded job system.
- Windows version now includes a Vulkan graphics driver. To try it out, go to Options -> Video -> Change Driver.

Tonight's Windows-only release is the first public test of a long-running project to re-architect the Vendetta Online engine, and bring it up to a point where we can deliver the kind of next-generation content required from many of our goals.

From our benchmark testing, we've seen about a 15% performance improvement over the previous version of the game, across the board. The new engine is only partially utilized at the moment, so we expect things to continue to get better from here.

We'll discuss this a bit more in the next newsletter, but basically, the new engine should make much better usage of systems with many cores, while still being very efficient on systems without them. Even low-power devices have a lot of cores now (8-core phones, and the like, and new Windows-on-ARM laptops), so multi-core scalability is increasingly important.

Similarly, we're very excited for the future of our new Vulkan renderer, which has been in development for quite some time. At the moment, you should not expect major performance improvements for using Vulkan over DirectX 11, as we're still in the process of re-tooling the greater engine to make better usage of Vulkan's advantages. However, we still encourage you to try the new renderer, if you have a reasonable Intel, NVIDIA or AMD GPU with recent drivers. Please post any issues to Bugs, and revert back to DX11 if things don't work for you. Basically, expect this to be a "beta" renderer, right now.

To those not on Windows: Yes, the improvements will be coming to you as well. As always, our world is very cross-platform, and one of the big benefits of Vulkan is the potential to use a single API across both mobile and PC.. unlike the need for DirectX, OpenGL, and OpenGL ES. On Apple devices, there are translation layers to allow Vulkan renderers to work via Apple's "Metal" API.

We released this only on Windows, as it's better to have a narrower test-case when the code is still relatively "early". We'll expand the engine testing onto other platforms, once we're a little more confident. If something goes awry, it's a lot easier to debug the process on just one platform at a time.

As always, please post any issues on the Bugs forum, and have a great weekend!

Vendetta Online 1.8.472-473

VO 1.8.473 included:
- Stronghold Queens are now more dangerous.
- Added numeric entries to joystick axis dead zone menu.

VO 1.8.472 included:
- Fixed crash when a drop-down list control's selected item is set to nil.
- Fixed crash on Android when searching for gamepads too many times.
- Fixed crash on Gear VR when the Back button on the remote control is pressed too many times.

Vendetta Online 1.8.471

VO 1.8.471 includes:

- Added a slight 200 millisecond delay to auto-fire, to equate it to average human reaction time, and mitigate usage with the Railgun.
- Fixed issue with turret fire delay exploit.
- Buddy invites now persist across logins and invites/accepts/declines work when the other player is not online.
- Fixed issue where your buddy list doesn't update when you accept your first buddy invite.

Vendetta Online 1.8.469-470

VO 1.8.470 included:
- Behemoth and Atlas class vessels now mention their Turret capabilities in the description.
- Latos D-14 is now more dangerous.
- Flight stick Throttle axis is now saved properly on Android.
- Fixed velocity direction indicator API functions.
- Added further mitigation of spy bots. If you run another type of bot, be sure it stays docked to a single station.
- Added code to mitigate capship turret firing delay exploits.

VO 1.8.469 included:
- Added optional display of guild tags in Nearby Players list in the Sensor Log. It defaults to on and can be changed in Options -> Interface -> Show Guild Tag in Sensor Log.
- Added optional display of a velocity direction indicator on the HUD. It defaults to hidden and can be changed in Options -> Interface -> HUD Settings -> Show Velocity Direction Indicator.

For modders, the size, color, and icon can be changed with the new lua functions radar.SetVelocityDirIconSize(<number>) radar.SetVelocityDirIcon('iconfilename') and radar.SetVelocityDirIconColor(r,g,b,a,'&') (r,g,b,a are between 0 and 1 and the '&' sets the blend mode to pre-multiplied alpha blend)

Vendetta Online 1.8.467-468

VO 1.8.468 includes:
- Fixed issue with flight stick buttons being unmapped when the game is restarted on Android (includes Oculus Go, etc).
- Fixed issue with certain forbidden console flight commands working on Windows.
- Persistent capship timeout now gets reset when the capship is damaged.
- NPCs now continue to target persistent ships when the player logs off.
- Fixed information-leak about whether a player is currently on or offline.

VO 1.8.467 included:
- Added mission text to speech for Oculus Go.
- Added option to lock HUD/Cockpit to ship instead of head when engaging turbo for Oculus Go for a more immersive experience.

Quite a few bug fixes in tonight's release, building on our improvements from Monday for the Oculus Go. Please let us know via the Bugs forum if you find any additional issues.

Vendetta Online 1.8.465-466

VO 1.8.466 includes:

- Added option to show player guild tags in chat. It is disabled by default and can be changed in Options -> Interface -> Show Guild Tag in Chat Log.
- Added option to colorize sectors that have notes applied to them in the navigation menu. It is enabled by default and can be changed in Options -> Interface -> Colorize Sectors with Notes in Navigation Menu. The options are in Options -> Advanced -> Interface for mobile devices.

VO 1.8.465 included:

- Fixed an issue with decreased mouse aiming speed when mouse-look is off on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Other announcements are in the works, please stay tuned!

Vendetta Online 1.8.464

VO 1.8.464 includes:

- Keychains are now sorted with active keys first.
- Inactive key descriptions are now a darker color.
- When given an access key, the description of the key is now displayed in the text notification.
- Removed In-App Recurring Subscription choices from Gear VR and Oculus Go version.
- Players who spend a great deal of time docked in a station may find their sector visibility decreases while docked. This can then be reversed through regular gameplay.

Lots of other development on-going, which hopefully we can start to publicly discuss before long. Have a great weekend everyone!

Vendetta Online 1.8.458-463

E3 chaos and other distractions have deferred our recent news posts, here's a recap of the May and June releases, starting with 463 (released last night):

VO 1.8.463 includes:
- Improved XBox One S gamepad support for Android.
- Improved deadzone calculation of gamepads on Android.
- Improved UX when a gamepad is detected during play on all Android VR platforms.
- The 'A' button on gamepads and the Fire button on other joysticks can now be configured through the Options -> Keyboard menu on Android.
- Increased detail of asteroids on Oculus Go.
- Improved multi-threaded performance.
- Removed response message from group invites, to eliminate information-leak about whether a player is currently on or offline.

VO 1.8.462.2
- More updates for Oculus Go.

VO 1.8.462-462.1
- Changed the Pirate Trident drop rate of FCP and FFSA to a 50% and a 25% chance respectively.
- Added paint overlays for Pirate Trident and Assassin fighters.
- Added Camo overlays on some military-role ships.
- Added support for Oculus Go (requires Oculus Store App update).

VO 1.8.461
- Pressing Esc/Back now closes the maximized chat menu.
- Fixed specular lighting issue on cockpit for Android VR.

VO 1.8.460
- Increased capship turret firing arc to 180 degrees side to side.
- Fixed issue with capship turrets firing in the wrong direction.

VO 1.8.459
- The Corvus Greyhound Camo Edition (LTS reward) is now only available in Odia, like the other Greyhound ships.
- Fixed issue with Controls menu buttons going off the bottom of the screen on mobile.
- Fixed issue with missile-based turret weapon explosions not causing damage under certain conditions.
- Fixed sector crash under certain conditions.

VO 1.8.458
- Added support for 6DOF Daydream VR headsets.
- Fixed issue with hand controller position when looking backwards in Daydream VR.

Buying/Selling of Game Items: Clarification of the EULA.

Section 9 of the Vendetta Online "End User License Agreement" states:

"You may not buy, sell or auction (or host or facilitate the ability to allow others to buy, sell or auction) any Game characters, items, coin or copyrighted material."

Obviously, the point of this is to dissuade the usage of real-world money (or monetary items) to purchase in-game content (ships, addons, characters) or currency (credits). One of the goals is to mitigate "pay to win" scenarios, where people are able to pay to find a short-cut to a challenging gameplay goal, like constructing a capital ship.

The other major reason is the amount of administrative overhead that is created by these situations like this that go awry. People complain because they feel (understandably) that the value of their game effort is de-valued by the "pay to win" offers made by others. Or, worse, if exchanges like this go awry, people end up coming to us, angry that some player took their money and didn't give them their illicitly-purchased item. This stuff is bad enough when it's just people arguing over in-game credits, let alone involving real money.

Lastly, there's also a negative impact on the game environment as a whole. We recently had to take action against someone who was badgering people with offers to sell them in-game items for real-world money. Previously, I've had to take action for people spamming offers of subscription keys in exchange for goods. Both cases are bad for the game environment, and no, the fact that someone uses subscription keys (or liveries, or other VO purchasable goods) does not mitigate the fact that this activity is banned by the EULA.

So, just by way of a reminder, I would like to clarify this issue:

1) Buying/Selling of in-game items for out-of-game currency or cash-backed goods (like sub keys) is not allowed, and may result in banning.

2) No, it doesn't matter if you conduct your trades on Discord, or some other forum somewhere, because people still get upset and we still end up hearing about it.

3) At the very least, there's a good chance that real-world "purchased" content may be revoked. So, as you pay someone a bunch of dollars for that capital ship, keep in mind that it may suddenly vaporize at any time. We have logs for years..

4) Buying the goods is just as bannable an offense as selling the goods.

5) Guilds whose leadership specifically fosters this kind of activity, may have action taken against the guild itself.

Now, people will raise a couple of points in relation to the above, which I'll try to address here:

- "But if we're using sub keys, you make money! It's good for VO!" No, the tiny amount of revenue generated from sub keys for this kind of activity, does not remotely offset the time and effort required for the administrative complaints that often result from it.

- "People are doing it anyway! You should enable it!" Maybe someday, but not at this time. As people know, I'm not opposed to evolving business models, and I'm not blind to the changes other games have made to mitigate (or profit from) this kind of challenge. But it's a fairly complex thing for us to develop, and in the meantime it's doing harm to the game. So, for the moment, the EULA stands. If the EULA should change in this matter, it will be obvious because it will pop up on login with a new date at the top, and I'll probably write a big post about it.

If you're uncertain about some aspect of this, and how it applies, then use common sense: Play the game as it actually stands.

Vendetta Online 1.8.457

VO 1.8.457 includes:

- Fixed issues causing the game to freeze on the Oculus Rift and in Simulated VR Mode.
- Fixed bug causing classic DirectInput flight-sticks to be improperly recognized and configured as gamepads on Windows.
- DirectInput flight-stick buttons are now named by button number, instead of by gamepad-style concepts.
- Chord button combinations will no longer be bound by default for DirectInput joysticks. This should not impact most gamepads, which use Xinput instead of DirectInput.
- Added a new default control layout for the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick.

Hopefully some more joystick and other improvements coming soon, as we continue to clean up the PC version in advance of a Steam launch. Enjoy!