Perpetuum is dead, long live Perpetuum

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So you haven’t heard from us in a long time, and the reason for that probably became more and more obvious with time: I'm sorry to inform you that Perpetuum is not actively developed anymore.

This blog is meant to inform you what this means for the game, for you, the players, and how the future of Perpetuum looks like. Because there is a future, at least we hope so.

How we got here

We knew from the start that Perpetuum will be a niche game and we were cool with it. But even considering that, it never really got off. We had two major spikes, the one during the EVE exodus, and after the Steam launch, but even those pale in comparison to what the we would have needed to justify the “massively” in MMORPG.

Over the years we’ve been in talks with numerous serious publishers and investors, but unfortunately none of those promises came to fruition. So the only thing we could do was to push it on our own and hope that steady work will eventually pay off and bring in a critical mass of players that would keep the game alive for a long time, and provide us a living.

The most prominent feedback that we have received over the years is that Perpetuum has great mechanics and atmosphere but lacks content, and that it is a great foundation for a game. Sadly we never got to the point where we could develop it to its full potential.

It was basically catch-22. After the initial spikes our playerbase always receded to unhealthy levels, which meant that we had to lay off some of our less essential content-related people and also that we didn’t have the funds to do any impactful marketing. Which in turn meant that we could bring in even less new players and develop less new content and do even less marketing. These cycles transformed into a downward spiral where the remaining developers had to be on minimum wage for years and the only thing we could do for the game was fixing bugs and recycling old content. If we would have found a publisher we would have been shut down probably years ago.

I joined Avatar Creations in 2006. After 10 years of “bringing up your own child” and making it part of your everyday life, it’s hard to call it. I can only speak about my own personal experience, but after such a long time of trying hard and failing, there comes a moment when you ask yourself “is it really worth it?” and “what am I doing with my life?”. So the remaining few of us made a mutual agreement that this is it, it’s time to let go.

We didn’t just want to simply let it die though, for two reasons. The first is a selfish one: if years from now someone asks what we have worked on for 10 years, we would like to be able to show them and say “it’s here, you can still play with it if you want”. In case of an MMO this is not self-evident.

The second reason is of course our players. However small it is, we still have a faithful community, and we love you all for that.

Your own Perpetuum server

So while the official server is still going to stay online for an undetermined time, in the last few months we’ve been working on a standalone server solution, in order to ensure the game’s future.

Although Perpetuum’s server application is far from being simple, our primary goal while developing the standalone server was simplicity and ease of use, while keeping the possibility of optional in-depth customization open.

The minimum requirements for running the server are lower than you might think: it can be run on the same Windows-based PC that you play Perpetuum on, even both at the same time. Resource usage of course goes up with the concurrent players on the server, so beyond a certain number a dedicated server machine is needed.

Strandalone server installer

You’ll also need to have an SQL server installed for the database, but we got that covered. The Perpetuum server installer is a single exe about 1GB in size and includes the freely available Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Express that’s automatically installed and configured along with the Perpetuum server itself.

The installer also comes with an Admin Tool application, which is used to start/stop and configure the server, as well as provide a management interface for the player accounts on that server.

Admin tool

Server availability can be customized in the following of ways:

  • Public server: the server will be publicly available and listed in the server browser, which will be visible both in the game client and on our website.
  • Private server: the server will not be visible in the server browser; players will have to enter the server’s address manually in the game client.
  • Open registration: anyone who connects to the server can create a new account and play.
  • Limited registration: players need to request an account from server admins and only they can create player accounts.

As I mentioned above, initially our primary goal is to provide a working standalone server that anyone who has ever installed any application can set up, manage, and run with minimum hassle. Once we see that this works we can move on to the next phase where we provide documentation and know-how on how you can customize your server and the database, like doing your own balancing. Word of warning though: even our own management tools feel a lot of times quite hacky, the ways you’ll have to tinker with stuff will certainly require patience and at least some minimal knowledge on how databases work.

We still have to work out some kinks, but the standalone server installer will soon be made publicly available to download, for free of course.

Game client changes

The introduction of the standalone server will of course require support in the game client as well, while still retaining simple access to the official server.

It’s not a big change though: a new server selection screen will precede the current login screen. This includes a new server browser window where all the publicly available player-run servers are listed along with the official server, and you can select any number of them to be included in the server dropdown menu on the main screen. From there it’s as easy as clicking the connect button and after that it’s business as usual, just enter your credentials and play.

Ingame server browser

Becoming Steam-only

A bigger change that some of you probably won’t like is that soon Steam will be the only place where Perpetuum will be distributed, including the standalone server. The reason for this is to ensure the availability of the game on a stable platform, as opposed to our own website that we cannot guarantee to be around forever. Another reason is that it’s uneconomical for us to keep our own payment platform, as purchases made via Steam outweigh our own store by far.

It’s important to note that existing non-Steam (e-mail based) accounts will continue to work with the Steam-based Perpetuum client, but you won’t be able to create a non-Steam account after the change.

Perpetuum Credits and DLCs discontinued

On a standalone server Perpetuum Credits and DLC will make no sense, since we cannot sell and transfer them to a privately held server, and the administrators of the servers would be able to easily hack in as many credits or EP as they like.

So as of now, Perpetuum Credits, ICE, and Upgrade Kits (DLCs) are not available to purchase anymore, but existing assets are not removed of course and can still be used.

FAQ

In the rest of this blog I’ll try to collect any remaining info and questions you might have, and I will also update this section if any unanswered issue comes up in the comments or the forum.

What happens to the official server?

While the development of Perpetuum is discontinued, the game is not shutting down, and the official server will still stay online for an undetermined time.

How can I play Perpetuum in the future?

You will have the choice to either continue playing on the official server, or play on any of the player-run servers.

When will I be able to run my own Perpetuum server?

As soon as possible. Most of the development is done, but we're still working on some details and bugs.

Can I play with my existing account/character on a private server?

This is something that we’re still looking into. What we know for sure is that we cannot give out any personal information included in Perpetuum accounts unless the account holder requests it, so simply copying the database is absolutely a no go. Another problem is that there are a lot of dependencies related to characters, so if we transfer a single account, there are going to be numerous problems if the character’s corporation, or the base/storage where its items are doesn’t exist on the new server... and those are just a few examples.

Can I sell Perpetuum Credits on my own server?

No, Perpetuum Credits are discontinued as server administrators could easily hack in as many credits as they like.

What happens to game features depending on Perpetuum Credits?

They will be either removed or changed to use other ingame currencies (like NIC) at a later time.

What prevents private server administrators to cheat on their own servers and give advantages to certain characters?

Technically nothing. Server administrators have full access to their server’s database and can do with it as they please, we can’t do anything to prevent this. This is something where the power of the community comes in, and we hope servers run by trusted players will develop a good reputation where you can be sure that everyone plays fair.

Will you still provide support for the game?

We are committed to fix any critical game-breaking bugs in the future that would prevent running the game at all. Anything beyond this, including new content, balancing, and individual player support (running the support ticket system) is not possible for us anymore.

Will I be able to do tweak balancing or add new ingame items on my own server?

To a certain extent, yes. It won’t be simple, and your possibilities will be quite limited, but we intend to come up with some documentation on what you can do and how you can do it.

Perpetuum Online September 3rd 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.430

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VO 1.8.430 includes:- Latos F-12 demonstration sector is now a larger and more complex scene, using all the capships hulks and floating pieces.- Mac version now requires OS X 10.9 or newer, and only supports 64bit Intel processors.- PowerPC support has been formally and permanently dropped from Vendetta Online.- Mac version defaults to OpenGL 4 drivers for all new installs. We recommend existing users also switch to GL4, and help report any remaining issues.- Mac GL4 version's auto-detection of discrete vs integrated GPUs and default graphics options have been updated to match the DirectX 11 version.- Mac Retina display support is now possible. Defaults to "off", but may be added with "Enable Retina Support" in Video Options. It may impact performance.- Mac version should now better handle Cmd-Tab, "Spaces" (virtual desktops), and other MacOS features.- iPad version now uses specialized archive files with much faster load times.- iPad users may now configure their gamepad sensitivity curves, under Options -> Input.Clearly, a major update for Mac users, with also some cool new "capship hulks" to check out for everyone else.The Mac version has been in need of a major "architecture upgrade" for quite some time, and this is important to also getting the game on Steam and the Mac Store. If you find any problems, please let us know. There are still some open questions with multi-monitor scenarios and mixed Retina and non-Retina monitors, what we've released should work pretty well, but we're still open to changing default behaviours and adding other feature support.There will still be one more major Mac update, which will basically re-work the way the game actually installs on Macs, to conform to changes Apple has made since our last re-architecture. The new iPad update is to help bring the latest iPhone TestFlight advancements into production for final testing. We are expecting the iPhone version to launch in the near future, more on that later. In the meantime, please report any issues you see on the iPad!Thanks much everyone, and have a fantastic weekend!
Vendetta Online September 2nd 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.427-429

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VO 1.8.429 includes:- Items and Ships that are visible in the station menu, but not purchasable by the user, will now provide a more detailed explanation of their purchase requirements.- Fixed issue where selecting an un-purchasable addon via the arrow keys caused the 'Purchase Selected' button to not become disabled.- Fixed issue with the description of un-purchasable addons showing a "Item will be placed in station storage." message.- Added more hulk and space-junk assets, not yet released into the demonstration sector.VO 1.8.428 included: - Updated Constellation hulk collision mesh.- Added more types of collidable debris.- Fixed possible crash or extreme memory usage under certain circumstances when starting Vendetta Online.VO 1.8.427 included:- Added five new types of physically-interactive space debris.- Space debris can now be damaged and destroyed.- Latos F-12 test sector updated to use additional types of debris.- Capship hulk no longer requires 3000m distance for sector jump.- Capship hulk is now dynamically colored to a random color.The additional physically-interactive debris, along with capship "hulks" is expected to help enable quite a bit of new content for the game, but we're still in the process of making everything functional. We do hope to have more extensive testing environments soon, as well as the addition of "physically-interactive" debris in all capship explosions. Yes, we are moving towards concepts like "salvage", but we still have some work to do to get there.Additionally, we have some major work on-going to improve the Mac and Windows versions, in advance of higher-profile releases on platforms like Steam. While the game does currently function on both platforms, the standards of the recent OS versions have changed enough to where it's realistically necessary for us to modernize and update the architecture of our game's installation and runtime.As a result, we're completely revamping aspects of the game's installation and functionality, beginning with the Mac version. The next Mac release will likely be a 64bit-only install that requires OS X 10.9 or newer, drops all legacy support for the PowerPC, and hopefully integrates much better with modern Mac desktop functionality (such as the "spaces" virtual desktop environment).This kind of development is not particularly "exciting" to announce, as it doesn't directly result in big gameplay changes. But, it should make the game more usable for people, and it will make it possible for us to ship the game to large-scale marketplaces where it would not otherwise be allowed. So, this makes the development highly worthwhile.Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend!
Vendetta Online August 27th 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.426

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VO 1.8.426 includes:- New test-content in sector Latos F-12, featuring dynamic ship debris and a damaged Constellation "hulk". The new dynamic debris can be pushed around and impacted by explosions, and will physically interact with objects in the sector. The new "hulk" objects are intended to be used for upcoming dynamic gameplay of discovery, rescue, salvage and other situations.- Fixed buffer overrun that could cause crashes at exit on some platforms, mainly Windows.VO 1.8.426.1 also includes:- Fixed a problem with Mac game launchers (if the launcher locks up, you may need to reinstall).- Fixed a crash related to joysticks on recent Windows 10 installs.The most interesting thing here is likely the new "damaged spaceship hulk" in Latos F-12 and the physically-modeled interactive debris field floating around it. The debris can be pushed off into space, so if you fly in when others are around, that may account for a reduction in visible debris. We're looking at adding a lot of different cases for this type of content, along with old "hulks" and "battle debris" that can be flown through and interacted with, which will play a major part in future missions and other content. Check it out!
Vendetta Online July 29th 2017

Policy Clarification: Vote Muting.

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In view of some recent issues, it seems a clarification in policy is needed.The purpose of the "/vote mute" function is to allow the player base to exercise some immediate action against individuals who are spamming the channel, making egregious racist remarks, and similar extreme behaviour that is "VERY obviously over the line".The purpose is NOT for groups of players to use mute-voting and guild organization as a secondary weapon to publicly silence people they happen to dislike. Individuals who engage in that may face much longer-term mutes themselves, along with losing their voting ability.The first response to avoiding chat you dislike should be the "/ignore" command. If an individual is being particularly abusive, but not deserving of a "/vote mute", then you should be opening a support ticket.Because of the combative nature of the game, we do not historically take action on mild trash-talking, nor should this be a use-case for a vote-mute. That's a case for /ignore.We are aware that 100 has been getting out of hand for some time, and we are working on solutions to help mitigate and improve that in the future.- Guild Software, Inc.
Vendetta Online July 29th 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.421-425

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VO 1.8.421-425 included- When chatting while warping out, the virtual keyboard no longer disappears.- Increased accelerometer deadzone for mobile devices.- Advanced Options menu buttons now support the Touch-Hover feature like the main Options menu.- 'Enter Game' menu buttons now support the Touch-Hover feature.- Moved General tab's touch settings into a 'Touch' tab in the Controls menu.- Tabs are now larger in the Controls menu.- Tilt Sensitivity slider is larger in the Tilt tab in the Controls menu.- Fixed green texture on station docking bays on iOS.- Hide the 'Don't show this again' check for the Swipe to change menus message when entering station/PDA for 3 times.- Removed the 4:3 HUD option for mobile devices.- If a mission becomes unavailable just as you attempt to take it, it no longer says "error".- Renamed Input tab name to General in the Controls menu.- Renamed Accelerometer tab name to Tilt in the Controls menu.- Renamed Sensitivity to Tilt Sensitivity in Tilt tab of the Controls menu.- Removed Mouse tab in the Controls menu on iOS and Android.- Removed Keyboard tab in the Controls menu on iOS.- Fixed Samsung GearVR remote controller issues.- Optimized multi-threaded rendering.- Added basic Oculus Rift Touch controller support.- Fixed tutorial text for GearVR.- Increased the quality of dynamic shadows being cast onto the cockpit for Rift and Simulated VR mode on PC.- Adjusted the positions of HUD displays when using the Alternate 1 cockpit in VR.Many small changes in tonight's update, along with a few added to this post from other recent updates. iPhone users on our TestFlight group will also receive an updated version, as we continue our march towards iPhone release.As always, please let us know if you run into any issues (via the Bugs forum, filing a Support Ticket, or using the TestFlight Feedback feature).If all goes well, we may be able to start experimenting with some new graphical content next week. Fingers crossed!
Vendetta Online July 15th 2017

An Indie MMO’s perspective on Network Neutrality

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I generally avoid posting about any political issues, as I see my role as creating an environment for the entertainment and escape of our players.However, today 80,000 different online sites and services are speaking out against the United States FCC's plans to eliminate Network Neutrality, and this issue directly bears on our ability to operate this game.If Network Neutrality is removed, it will be harder for small companies like us to stay in business, delivering innovative new online games and services.Basically, it places network providers in the position of "negotiating" which players can connect to what games or sites, and at what speeds or ping-times. You might buy "50mbit" service, but actually have a much slower and intentionally rate-limited connection to our game, and many others.An example of this is when Time Warner Cable ("Spectrum") clamped down on League of Legends player-bandwidth during negotiations with Riot Games.As a small indie that doesn't have the revenue of Riot, we cannot afford to pay every ISP for "special treatment". Frankly, it's enough of a burden for us just to host our game. Everything beyond our servers is supposed to be a flatly-billed "Internet". I can specifically speak to this, as a former engineer who helped create a sizable national Internet network (AS3857, AS4323) that's now a part of "Level 3 Communications". On the end-user side, just look at when AT&T blocked Facetime on iPhones in 2012, demanding that users upgrade to a more expensive service package (even blocking their "unlimited data" subscribers).There may well come a time when you go to connect to our game, or many others, and get a pop-up from your provider requiring you to buy a costly new "Gamer Internet" service package.The argument from the large cable and telecom providers is that repealing Net Neutrality will allow them to better "re-invest" in their infrastructure. But big shops like AT&T have a pretty spotty history of actually improving infrastructure the way they claim (especially with limited competition), while also killing municipal broadband in rural areas (even when they don't serve those areas), and gleefully fighting to collect and sell your personal internet usage information.Fundamentally, it's unlikely any of these big providers will substantially "re-invest" in their network infrastructure while their profit margins are incredibly high, they lack serious competitive threats, and they don't see a clear value for their high-cost investment. Why bother giving you gigabit internet for $60/month when they can charge you the same price for a dozen megabits, without having to change their network? There's no reason for them to start spending their profits, with or without Network Neutrality. They'll continue to make "show" upgrades in a few locations, and announce them loudly, but mostly the infrastructure stays the same.T
Vendetta Online July 12th 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.420

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VO 1.8.420 includes:- New Centaur graphical ship assets, across all platforms.- New Ragnarok and Hornet graphical ship assets now available on iOS.- Improved Windows XInput device detection.- Fixed lines disappearing in Gamepad menu on Windows.Please let us know if you run into any problems with this version, especially the new Centaur graphics assets.Have a great weekend, everyone!
Vendetta Online May 27th 2017

Player Thefts and Gameplay Ethics.

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We have a long-standing policy of not getting involved with player-versus-player or guild-related "thefts" or "espionage", and it appears a reminder is needed of this fact.If you give another player a large sum of credits (or manufactured goods, or whatever) with an expectation of an exchange for some other good/service, and they instead "run off with your stuff", that is NOT cause for administrative action.As long as the game mechanics are used as-intended, and there's no "exploit" or account-compromise, or other external-factor involved, and everything happens within the context of regular gameplay.. then we consider it to be a part of regular gameplay.As far as we're concerned, this game is built as a framework, a model to which people may bring their own behaviours and ethics. The fundamental existence of piracy in our game, defended as a legitimate means of accruing wealth, gives a clue to the variable ways in which the game may be played. We, the developers, do not pass judgement on who should be a pirate, or who should be EMS or some sort of altruist, that is the player's choice to make.Probably the most fundamental decision players have to make in VO is "who to trust". Is this person on radar going to attack me and take my stuff? Is this guild-member going to behave responsibly? Will this exchange of manufactured goods go as planned? These choices are your own, and are made at your own risk.This doesn't mean we approve of people behaving badly or in an un-trustworthy manner, but it does mean we don't take administrative action to reverse the results of bad decision-making or trust issues between players.We ARE open to Suggestions (posts on that specific forum) on ways of improving the game to mitigate issues with un-trustworthy people.But, fundamentally, we do not get involved if you give someone your stuff (or access to your stuff), and they run away with it.Guilds should consider carefully who they choose to trust. People have spent months rising in the ranks of guilds for no other purpose than emptying their bank, stealing their other content, or practicing espionage on behalf of a rival guild. Again, we don't pass judgement on this.There have been "thefts" or trust-related issues resulting in the losses of Billions of credits over the last year, and we have not reversed or refunded any of them. These join many other incidents (large and small) over the past years, where we also refused to get involved.Be Cautious! It is a large and scary galaxy, and not everyone has your best interests at heart. If you do choose to trust someone, do so knowing that that decision is yours alone, and you have to live with the results.
Vendetta Online May 26th 2017

Vendetta Online 1.8.419

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VO 1.8.419 includes:- Android gamepad analog sticks now use a linked sensitivity curve.- Updated damage indicators for the new Hornet and Ragnarok.- Added a Gamepad Settings menu for PC when a gamepad is detected.- Fixed blank screenshots on Windows when Anti-Aliasing is enabled.- Fixed VR settings not getting properly reloaded when a gamepad is detected.- Fixed plugin issues when changing HUD options to hide touch-region discs or changing the size of the regions.- When a player with a passenger enters a sector and they are hated by the monitoring faction, and the passenger is also hated by the same faction, the passenger no longer gets ejected.Lots of tweaks. The Android gamepad curves should provide a valuable improvement on that platform.Similarly, let us know how the new Gamepad Settings menu works for you on the PC? It should be a big improvement, but like any major new item, it may have some aspects that need tweaking. The menu is another step towards supporting use-cases like Steam Big Picture, or generally allowing more convenient re-mapping of gamepad controls while in VR, etc.There's a newsletter in the works, as well as another ship-update, and more. Hopefully next week, but we'll see how it goes. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Vendetta Online May 20th 2017