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Vendetta Online 1.8.577-580

A lot of changes in the last couple of weeks..

VO 1.8.580 includes (11/5):
- New tutorial missions in initial rollout on touchscreen devices, will eventually be coming to other input models.
- Improved client-side mission list refresh and update latency.
- Replaced Dentek Collectors with Orun Collectors in the Training Sectors.
- Players who take a Deneb Battle or Hive mission, but never participate in the battle, are no longer awarded any XP or credits.
- Changed jump-in point selection to reduce the chance that players end up inside or beyond the asteroid ring in Sol I-11 and other sectors with asteroids near jump-in points.
- Added ability for tutorials to highlight various HUD elements.
- Various PCC mission editor improvements and new features.
- Updated to Android Billing API v4.
- Android 6.0 "Marshmallow" is now the minimum required to install Vendetta Online from the Play Store, for a variety of technical and stability related reasons.

VO 1.8.579.4 included (11/4):
- Touch-selection now works through the new Touch-Throttle and Touch-Look input modes. Quickly tapping an item in space will select it.

VO 1.8.579 included (11/2):
- New Touch-Throttle input mode for Android Touch devices. It is enabled for new installs, and disabled for existing installs. To enable, go to Advanced -> Controls -> Touch and press the 'Defaults' button.
- Streamlined Android Touch-based initial offline training simulator, changed voice-over sounds.
- Updated client-side mission cache and start requesting mission info for missions not in the cache earlier in the login process, allowing the mission list to be populated more quickly when logging in.
- Added more anonymous analytics to the Android version.

VO 1.8.578 (10/27):
- Brakes now set the Flight-Assist Throttle when released on Android for new installs. Existing installs retain the previous functionality of resuming the set speed. A setting has been added to change this setting in Options -> Advanced -> Controls -> General -> Braking reduces F/A throttle.
- Added features to be used in future missions.
- Added more anonymous analytics to the Android version.

VO 1.8.577 (10/22):
- Two new Missions for beginner-level players.
- Player and NPC ships should now be less-likely to jump-in very close to asteroids.
- New mission-editor mechanics to better illustrate controls in tutorials (PCC).
- Game Website Support-Ticket system now prevents accidental double-submission of tickets.
- Game Website Support-Ticket system now uses a more mobile-scalable web design.
- Changes and improvements to the administration interfaces of the ticket and other internal systems.
- Game Website Forums now prevents users from editing or deleting posts after 15 minutes pass from the time the post was initially made.
- PCC members may now only "bump" very-old threads (greater than 6 months) on the restricted-access PCC Forums.
- New (anonymized) analytics to help assess new-user progress through tutorials, broken down by localized language and input-type, in preparation for localized tutorial missions.

Now a little more explanation..

This has been a really intensely busy period of development, as the above release log can attest. While we are using Android as the development test platform here, please understand that once things are proven to be stable, they will be propagated to other platforms.

The default controls for touchscreen have been improved again, with the left-side "throttle / strafe" controls now changed from a "virtual joystick" to an auto-centering linear input region, much like the changes we made to the right-hand steering area earlier this year. We've also made "touch-to-select" work for both sides again. Vertical strafe buttons are also now available on the default control layout. If you haven't played the touchscreen version in some time, we recommend starting with the new defaults, before experimenting with other customizations.

A lot of work is going into the improvement of the "early game", which is still on-going. This includes everything from the moment a user runs the game for the first time, through the end of the tutorial mission tree. The initial testing here is for touchscreen devices, but the new tutorials will eventually appear for all input models (mouse/kb, gamepads, joystick, etc).

This is also why there haven't been as many "later game features" being added recently, as we've been focused on bringing about these improvements for new users.

We have changed some of the mechanics of how players and NPCs jump into systems, and this should be helpful both for convoys and individual pilots, as we think there'll be better approaches stations, on average.

The Play Store Android minimum OS requirement increasing to 6.0 (for NEW installs) might be a little controversial, but "it was time". Supporting earlier devices was becoming increasingly challenging, due to a mixture of out-of-date system libraries and driver bugs. On the upside, any currently-functional existing installation of VO (on a pre-6.0 device) will *probably* continue to work for some time to come, through the game's own internal update mechanism. So this really just impacts new users, not existing installs.

Localization work is also on-going, and will hopefully start to emerge before long.

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