It’s been a little more than a month since we’ve launched on Steam, and we’re closing in on 2 months past our payment model change, so it’s high time to do a quick assessment on where we stand, and where we’re going.

Fresh blood

The best news I can tell you is of course that our playerbase received a much needed boost, thanks to our parting with the subscription model, and the huge visibility that Steam provides.

We’ve hit the 600 mark with the online player count on a recent weekend and our average player count is roughly 5 times as before. Of course this is a tiny amount if you compare Perpetuum to other online games, but I have to remind you that we’re still in Early Access so people are wary to join. Also, as we have stated before, we’ve chosen the path of a slow growth instead of spiking it, so it’s all pretty much going according to our plans. We didn’t have any server issues that can be attributed to online player numbers so far either, which is another good sign.

I don’t have the freedom to tell you actual financial data, but it should be enough to say that after months (years?) of worrying about what to put on your plate tomorrow, it’s a liberating feeling to have that off of the list of things to worry about, and being able to just focus on making the game better.

A new home

We have already started to put those financials to good use, so beyond the company-issued Ferraris (by which we mean a second portion of ramen), we have found a brand new hosting location for our game servers.

As you probably know, the Perpetuum server cluster (if you can call 3 machines a cluster) is currently located in Budapest, Hungary. This is of course quite optimal for us, but very sub-optimal for most you, as we are hardly what you could call the center of the interwebs. My support ticket inbox is always full of reimbursement requests related to lag and disconnections, and most of those can be probably attributed to various network and routing issues.

So after doing the necessary research and inquiries, we have decided to move the servers to a prominent datacenter in Amsterdam. Though technically we’re not moving the machines themselves, but rather renting new ones on location, since we’re very fond of the idea of not having to send in Gargaj to switch a faulty HDD in our self-maintained hardware. To Amsterdam.

Without going into too much technical detail for now, compared to the current mixed-role 3-server configuration, the new setup will consist of 5 core machines: 1 server for handling player traffic (logins and zone jumps), 1 dedicated machine for the SQL database, and 3 dedicated machines for hosting the islands, split down between the 3 main factions.

Paperwork and technicalities are still in progress, but if things go as planned, you’ll be able to test the new servers within a month.

The near future

Let’s have a look at the things that we’ll be focusing on in the coming months. Some of these will be done in parallel, but the general order is something like this.

Gamma revamp

With the closing down of gamma islands a huge chunk of the game content has been temporarily removed, so this is our top priority right now of course - we know that you guys are preparing for the mother of all wars when gammas open up again. We are using our public test server to try out all the new mechanics and limitations that we need to implement to make it all work again.

We’re taking our time with this because obviously nobody wants another gamma wipe a year from now, and we are grateful to everyone who aids us with valuable feedback and actual testing. More info on the progress of this is coming soon to the relevant testing forum topic.

Quality-of-life improvements

Gargaj is on fire, and we have received an overwhelmingly positive feedback on the small QoL improvements like the autopilot, the storage search, and the many small UI-related changes. We’ll continue on this road, so you can definitely expect more of these.

Assignment system revamp - Stage 2

After Gamma is back up, we’ll jump right into doing some long-awaited PvE love: the revamp of the assignments. It’s been a while since we announced this, but better late than never.

As you might remember, the second stage is about making the assignments themselves random. We’ll be using an assignment template system where we only set what type of objectives you need to do, but the exact enemy you need to kill, or the item you need to acquire, or the mineral you need to mine will be all randomly selected from a pool of nearby locations, so your chances of seeing the exact same assignment twice will be quite low.

Not only that, but we’ll also seed the islands with many small assignment terminals that you’ll be able to use while on the terrain, so you can spare the long walks back and forth to the main terminals just to request or deliver an assignment.

Robot paint system

We have already deployed the foundations of the paint system in a recent patch (you probably noticed because most of the robots received a white color due to a bug).

The coloring system will be definitely not just some “pick a color and be done with it”-thing: we’ll have paint items that you can either gather or manufacture and then mix them together to get the final color for your robot; so basically fully integrate the painting frenzy into the industry and market economy.

Teleport and highway network revamp

The topic of long walks is still one of our most discussed issues, and one of the many reasons behind it is the current haphazard teleport and highway system layout. Although we don’t plan to make groundbreaking changes to the teleport network itself, our basic concept for the change is that you should be able to travel between every teleport and terminal/outpost without stepping off of a highway, ever. If you’ve seen the Virtual Training Island, that should be a good indicator of our general direction with this, but we’ll try to even top that.

Balancing changes

DEV Alf is back from the dead too, so you can expect some balancing changes too. He has already jumped into a hot topic right now: the balance of signal detectors and electronic warfare in general.

Steam trading and market integration

This is something that we still need to do some research on, but I’m putting it here because we plan to do it sooner rather than later. As you probably know, several games have items that can be traded via the Steam economy already. The general idea is that first you would be able to trade ingame items via Steam, for example your Gropho Mk2 for some trading card or another Perpetuum originated item.

The ultimate goal however is that we’ll also hook up Perpetuum to the Steam community market, where you’ll be able to sell and buy ingame items for Steam wallet funds. We’re approaching this very carefully of course - it could be a large boost to the ingame economy, but things could also go wrong with it.

The not-so-near future

We’re quite aware that the graphics of the game are starting to look dated. Unfortunately the current engine architecture has also become dated, so this is not simply a question of putting in higher resolution textures and models. The engine requires a major rewrite for any significant upgrades.

Not to mention the GUI - one of the most frequent complaints we hear is about the small size of the ingame fonts. This is also something that’s very hard to fix currently, since the interface is pretty much hardcoded and not “stretchy”. Text with larger fonts would simply overflow outside of the UI elements, and we’d need to have a completely separate, differently sized interface for that to work - and we’d rather put that effort into a new and advanced interface engine that will work for all display sizes without compromise.

For these reasons we’ve been working on the foundations of a completely new client but as you might guess this is not a simple task. At this time we’re still pretty far from replacing our current client, but work towards this goal has been going on behind the scenes for the last year and a half now.

Our first goal here is to get basic functionality going (glorified chat client woo!), which would work as a proof of concept for the new interface engine. Once that’s satisfying enough, we’ll move on to the 3D engine itself. With the new interface tech we developed, the implementation of a new client should go a lot faster than before. Regarding a timeframe, we hope to have something to show later this year, at the very least a partially functional test of the new interface engine.

Conclusion

This year marks the 10th year of Perpetuum development, and after an admittedly quite awful last year - which no doubt you noticed as well - the Steam launch has been one of the most important things that happened to the game. We’re adamant on riding this wave and focusing on making a better gaming experience for everyone, which is an easy thing to say, and it’s equally easy to be sceptic about it, but here’s the thing: This project is important to us - and we’ll act accordingly.

Comments for this post

1 Obi Wan Kenobi

first!

2 Miyiki

looking forward to some great gaming ... :)

3 oaisdj98asd

last!

4 Hauler_M

give your best...devs

i love the new changes and the future:)

1+

5 Ville

Then what are you actually planning on selling in your cash shop?

6 Syndic

RMT-ing in-game items for $$$ on Steam what?

7 Mastablasta

The ultimate goal however is that we’ll also hook up Perpetuum to the Steam community market, where you’ll be able to sell and buy ingame items for Steam wallet funds.

This paragraph should never be uttered by a dev that values his community. So the richest guy gets infinite robots....I dont care about the tradincards, but real money gets super Gay. Diablo 3 failed at it and that was fucking blizzard.

Btw the rest sound really good other than the above paragraph. Just walk away from that one.

8 N1nhurs4g

For the love of all that is holy and potato-y, please don't reset relations when you do the revamp. Tired of bringing my relations back up each time >.< Is this something that will be expected? Because I'll stop now if so.

9 Riggsville

hmmm
sounds like it is time to spend some money for those extra EPs (despite DevZooms attitude problem and my vow to not spend another cent on this game)

10 BeastmodeGuNs

Everything sounds awesome, looking forward to the future content!

I'm gonna miss beta only, but for gods sake I hope gamma is done right this time, and maybe not add as many islands this time until pop gets bigger, maybe just like 12 or so, 4 for each race?

Oh, and welcome back Alf!

11 Stranger Danger

like everything but the RMT inventory.

Also, you guys need to sort out a legit cash shop page so people can buy credits, boosters, name changes ect.

12 Stranger Danger

Oh yeah, WB Alf, I expect big money from degrades in the near future....

13 Xaxis85

I say let the lazy noobs with fat wallets buy bots, All the more for me to blow up. Buying a bot with money don't make it any stronger, just means more rich noobs with full T4 for us to loot. As long as they don't let you straight up buy EP with money things will be alright. Can't wait for paint, my Seth is screaming for it. ^_-

14 DEV BoyC

Mastablasta: Diablo 3 failed at this because they basically crowdsourced the search for loot, which is the whole point of that game. It's not the real money part but the auction house that was a broken idea for that game. You could already buy NIC for real money from other players when we had ICE, this is only an expansion of that idea.

15 MoBIoS

Heads up, even tho I think Gargaj would love to switch a faulty HDD in your self-maintained hardware in Amsterdam, at least once or twice a weak :D

16 Tux

This is all good news. Sounds like the game infrastructure will finally be stable.

Still looking for new colix based robots & equipment.

next year maybe ? :/

1+ For Monthly DEV BLOGS !!! go go

17 DEV Gargaj

MoBIoS: Not really - getting access to servers is always a protracted waste of time.

18 Mastablasta

@Dev Boyc, I do want to say that you guys are doing a great job and I really love the new things coming down the pipe. I do fee you need to put in a cash shop and all, but thats another argument. The problem with the idea that you have is that it will not be bad at first, but when the china/koren farmers move in and only do industry for the sole purpose of making money of the game. It will turn into a infinite stream of bots/items for cash. In i since destroying the in game economy. Why grind nic when you can drop your wallet and have a whole fleet in minutes.

19 Cassius

Psst, Gargaj, I don't think you'd be working on servers in Amsterdam ;)

20 Snowman

Dont know what your moaning about Syndic, you'll be able to pay your mortgage off soon son.

As for me, I guess I'll check back in another 2 years :S

21 DEV Gargaj

Cassius: Why else would I go there?

22 Evil Harvester

thats a great blog and hope to see these changes in the future keep up the hard work !!!!

23 Ville

What are you actually planning to sell in the cash shop?

24 DEV Zoom

Ville: we don't have a cash shop and don't plan to have one in the near future. Everything that can be purchased for Perpetuum Credits has its own place in the game, this won't be different for robot paint either.

25 Obi Wan Kenobi

@ Zooms last post: Then how are you going to make money off of selling robot paint jobs??

26 BadAss

it is impossible comfortable to play at large lags now, what can be the future

27 DEV Zoom

Obi: like I said, you'll buy it in-place, where it's needed, not in a separate shop.

28 Kshahdoo

You can inject real money in EVE, and it sooner helps than damages. Because in full loot PvP games if someone wishes to throw some money in the fire of war, it's not bad. The more skillful and organized will win anyway. But for some people it's a viable way to get money for PvP. Real money won't give any advantage. You just burn them instead of credits when die.

29 Alexadar

Is tere any screenshots fom new engine?

30 Lonwolf

What I love about the devs is their "Cup is always half full" enthusiasm!

Looking forward to some PvE love and better servers!

31 MacGoven

I remember reading awhile back an article on how the Perpetuum maps are generated (http://blog.perpetuum-online.com/posts/2011-01-25-behind-the-bots-generating-the-perpetuum-maps/), and that made me wonder: how much of the game's visual content (models, textures, etc) is procedural? Depending on how tightly the procedural generation algorithms used in-game are tied to the engine, a short-term solution could be to increase the maximum detail of the algorithms.

32 FlufyDestroyer

This is a very humble thing to say (last paragraph). I don't know many companies that do that. I hope for a very successful year (years !) as well.

I do see lots of excuses to increase the number of dev blogs especially with the new needed engine.

33 Empress

Good to hear of better servers. Aussie and NZ players don't really bother with PVP as we get a constant 400 to 500ms. (or most of the ones ive talked to anyway)

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