Yay, it's 303 today! (You may disregard this if you don't get the reference.)
Anyhow, I thought it's about time to provide some updates about what we've been doing in the past week or two, because we've certainly been busy enough not to say anything so far. As you may remember we posted earlier about what we're planning to add into the game in the coming weeks, with which we've been progressing steadily, but there were also other developments on other fronts, which might be of interest.
Reaching out to another world
The most apparent update we have is that we've been in cooperation with the wonderful people at CodeWeavers to bring Perpetuum to OSX and Linux, and finally we can present you with official Crossover Games support, which will allow you to enjoy the game on those two platforms just as good as under Windows, and you even get a discount if you purchase through that link! We ourselves have been using the game through this method on a MacBook Pro, and it seemed to work flawless as far as we could see. The gist of this essentially means that we'll keep an eye on possible bugs caused by the emulation, while the Crossover developers will continue to pay attention to your reports for the bugs you find seem to be platform specific. Before you ask, we're not excluding the possibility of a future native client for those platforms, but right now the game itself (as a game, not as a piece of software) needs way too much care internally for us to be able to shed any assets or resources on porting, and especially maintaining it afterwards. Right now, we feel really strong about Crossover as a means to deliver our game to a wider audience, so spread the word if you know someone who remained stranded on the OS-fringes until now!
Moving over to actual game-features, most of the artifact scanning is implemented (save for the usual minor GUI-related swashbuckling) and has proved itself eyebrow-raisingly fun for such a cynic as myself, probably due to the notable simplicity of the mechanic itself. The whole concept boils down to this: You get a normal geo-scanner, you get some artifact scanning ammo, load it, go out to terrain, scan. If there's something cool within range, you get a distance reading. You move around, scan again, you get another reading, with a delta calculation to show you whether you got closer or not. From this point on, it's an entertaining little game of "hotter / colder", which starts out as relatively simple when the distance is still large and any movement toward the general direction is considered as advancing, and gets gradually more and more tricky once you get closer and smack headfirst into either the "It says it must be here SOMEWHERE!"-run-in-circles-scan-like-a-maniac-syndrome, or the unfortunate occurrence that the artifact is likely to be in the middle of a bunch of angry NPCs. Either way, scanning within a given range of the artifact will finally result in the reward to appear - this can be a container with munchies in it, or a trigger to a variety of other things, depending on the type of that artifact. (This is helpfully specified for you along with the distance, just so you don't go cheerfully dowsing for Pandora's box.) There will be additional factors on how efficient you'll be able to geocache yourself to riches, but I'll leave that up to you to discover once the patch is out. The preliminary estimate for this patch is March 9, 2011, but this is still just what we're aiming for and there's still a lot of testing and balancing to do.
We've also initiated the process of adding more zones to the game, a considerable task that's gonna take us quite some time to finish, hence it will probably not appear in the next patch yet. We're finished with the basic layout of the maps themselves, we've already placed the terminals and teleports, what remains is the actual level design: flattening the grounds to walkable paths, painting mineral fields, placing NPCs, placing decoration, stuff like that, as well as coming up with absolutely ludicrous new names for everything, the part of the process we admittedly enjoy the most. The plan is to provide six new zones, literally doubling the area available inside the game: three new safe zones (the ones with only a single terminal on them) for general activity, and three unsecured zones (with two outposts each) for unrestrained territory-knuckling. The teleport network has already been laid out, and though I won't go into detail here, we're hoping to provide easy access to each map from most of the current ones.
Some minor additional bits that have been done: We've changed the datafile handling so the local settings (keyboard, sound, window positions) will be saved separately from the large datablob, so deleting that will never cause your settings to be lost again. (Whoo-hoo!), we also added a free-look button so you can rotate the camera around the robot even when it is moving, we've made tabstrips squishy so now you won't have the problem of channels not fitting on the chat window, and last but not least we're in the final stages of adding direct credit card payment to our store. (About time, really.)
So that's about it for now, and we'll update you with details as soon as we have time to take a larger breath.