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!
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.
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-v
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.