Newsletter June 2015

Maneuvering Around

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Hello, and welcome to this month's Von Neumann Defense Force newsletter! I'm Hanno, VNDF's lead developer and chief newsletter engineer.

If you haven't noticed, this newsletter is the latest yet. Usually, I aim for the 15th, and while a few days delay has been quite normal, this time I've missed that target by a whole two weeks. The good news is that, compared to last month, the pace of development has picked up a bit. If everything goes as planned, that trend will continue through July.

But enough introduction. Here's what's happened since the last newsletter:

Have fun with this month's newsletter and please email any feedback to Do you have any questions about VNDF in general or the contents of this newsletter specifically? Let me know!

CLI Improvement

Previously, it was kind of hard to tell what was going on with the command-line interface, unless you knew exactly what had just been typed in. No more! Now the commands that were executed are shown with the other output.

The command-line interface shows executed commands

(click to see full size)

Navigating Through Space

The current focus of work is navigating through space. Previously, the player's ship would just move slowly to the right. I've made the first step towards adding support for navigation.

With the schedule-maneuver command, the player can change the direction of movement. The syntax is schedule-maneuver <angle>, where <angle> is an angle in degrees, right being 0 degrees.

A ship moving to the left

(click to enlarge)

Obviously that's just the first step. Over the next few months, I'll be improving the movement physics and add back planets and gravitation.

Server Cleanup

The addition of the new navigation feature highlighted some weaknesses in the structure of the server code. The server's architecture had been pretty straight-forward, so far, but it was starting to crumble under its own weight.

A big focus has been to clean up the mess, splitting the rather large mass of code into small, self-contained modules and rethinking how all of it worked and could be improved upon.

I've been doing a lot of this, and it had a very positive effect, making the code much more maintainable. I expect this to be an ongoing concern for a while, as more features are added

Comm Ids Are Gone

Up until today, a randomly generated identifier (like AZX-44FK, or KUF-H5HN) was assigned to every player when they logged in. This identifier was displayed with a player's broadcast, to help identify the sender.

Unfortunately that feature got in the way of some cleanup work and I decided to remove it. In the long term, it will be obsolete anyway, as broadcasts will be displayed next to the sender's ship (not in a list) and players will be able to choose their own names.

I'm not sure yet when that glorious future will arrive, but until then, the ship's internal entity id is used as a placeholder.

A conversation in space

(click to enlarge)

See You Next Time

Do you have any questions about this newsletter or Von Neumann Defense Force in general? Send them to me! I'd love to do a Q & A in some future newsletter.

Thanks for reading, and see you again for next month's newsletter!