The Venice Unleashed Open Beta is now LIVE!
With the next Venice Unleashed Open Testing Season right around the corner, it is only logical that we outline some of the changes to the VU client since the last beta, along with letting you know what we'll be testing, and sharing some general news.
The First Few Days
This is a much more focused beta than the previous one. What this means is that we'll be testing specific features and functionality, and orchestrating general gameplay in order to effectively and efficiently resolve any issues that could arise.
The first few days of the beta will be dedicated to fixing major issues, such as common crashes, startup issues, bugs present in the various sub-components of Venice Unleashed, etc. There's not something overly specific you should do. Simply launching the client and joining any of our servers should be enough. If you don't already have VU installed, make sure to head over to our downloads
page for more information and setup instructions.
If you encounter any issues (be it technical, or something that just doesn't feel right compared to the vanilla game), please make sure to let us know by either posting on our Community Issue Tracker
, or our Help & Support
forums.You can also find us on IRC in #veniceunleashed on Rizon. Additionally, please make sure to not create duplicate posts for issues that were already reported by other people, as in doing so you make it significantly more difficult for us to isolate problems and fix them effectively.
If your client crashes, it should automatically generate and upload a crash report to our crash server. After successfully doing so, it will provide you with a unique ID which you can then use when referring to the issue (hint: you can Ctrl+C the dialog that pops-up to copy the text!), and will greatly assist us in identifying the core of the problem
Like we've stated before, mods will be an essential part of this testing season, as we will be testing the various parts of the VeniceEXT scripting system, along with some Rime modding features that will be introduced later during the beta.
However, with that being said, don't expect mods from day-1.
As stated above, the first few days will be reserved for basic testing, with actual mods being introduced a bit later down the line. We already have some of the best people in the field crafting custom experiences for Venice Unleashed, and along with various experiments we'll be conducting ourselves we hope you'll find this beta as enjoyable as ever.
Lastly, if you have ideas about what could make a good mod, don't hesistate to contact us and let us know, since most modding features in VU are being created in order to accomodate for the needs of the community and the various mod authors.
Supporting Venice Unleashed
In the past we've had a pretty strong stance against donations or other contributions towards our projects. However, there's no denying that Venice Unleashed, being a self-sustained community oriented project, is not easy to maintain. Over the past few years, Venice Unleashed (and other Emulator Nexus projects) have been exclusively supported by advertisements and personal income (since ads aren't nearly enough to cover the costs).
However, with the current model it is not clear to us for how long we'll be able to maintain Venice Unleashed, so in order to ensure the longetivity of the project we've decided it is time to allow people to donate towards the costs of Venice Unleashed (something that has been requested a lot by several members of the community). All proceeds from donations will be used exclusively towards operational costs of Emulator Nexus projects (for things such as server hosting, domains, licenses, etc.), with anything in excess being used to crowd-fund prizes for small community-based tournaments held in Venice Unleashed.
If you wish to support this cause you can donate directly to us from our dedicated donation page
. We are currently integrated only with Stripe and PayPal for payment processing, but we're hoping to add more options in the future.
In the case you don't want to directly financially support Venice Unleashed, but still want to contribute, feel free to contact us directly, as anything helps. Some examples of things we are looking for are official server providers, servers to expand our content delivery network, sponsors for organizing tournaments and other events, and more.
As we've said time and again, Venice Unleashed is a project created by the community for the community. We're doing this because we love what we do, not because of personal profit, which is the only reason we have decided to go forward with a move such as this. We hope you understand.
Venice Unleashed has undergone a lot of changes over the past few months, from simple bug-fixes, to completely new features and functionality. Even though most of these changes aren't immediately visible to the naked eye, they sometimes have a huge impact on how Venice Unleashed functions. We will be posting a complete changelog here
soon, but for now here are some of the most important changes that happened during the past few months:
Enhanced Mod Support
We've talked in the past about how VeniceEXT (the Venice Extension system) and Rime will contribute to Venice Unleashed by providing mod authors and content creators with the tools necessary to create completely custom experiences for VU. For the past few months, we have been introducing tons of new functionality to both VeniceEXT and Rime, in order to make it possible for that dream to be fully realized.
For starters, VeniceEXT now has the ability to bind to any single game data class, and alter it in any way one sees fit. This opens an entirely new portal when it comes to creating mods that would otherwise be impossible, even by modifying game files. Additionally, we've introduced lots of new functionality which allows entirely dynamic and on-the-fly entity creation and management, gamestate configuration, player management, etc. On top of that, VeniceEXT is now much faster, as we've switched from using Lua to LuaJIT! Finally, in order to be able to provide some reference implementations for new mod authors, we've converted some internal systems of Venice Unleashed to the VeniceEXT system. One such system is the Spectator System, which will be fully open-source for everyone to explore.
When it comes to Rime, there's simply not enough that can be said to describe what it will be able to do once it's finished, but for now we can detail what's been worked on recently. First of all, as mentioned in the past, the entire content pipeling of Rime has been revamped, allowing it to process files from different Frostbite games in a faster, more reliable, and more secure manner. Additionally, Rime can now natively bind game data to native code, allowing users to create custom authoring tools and plugins very easily. Finally, the first integration part with Venice Unleashed is finished, allowing authors to directly replace game content (such as textures, models, sounds, scripts, etc.), while also providing initial live-editing features.
Refined Spectator Mode
As mentioned above, the Spectator Mode has been fully converted to utilize the power of the VeniceEXT system. With that comes not only a general performance increase, but also more fine-grained and customized controls, better features, and the ability for other mod authors to directly plug into the system and provide their own custom functionality (we've already got some stuff coming for that soon, so stay tuned!)
On top of that, we've greatly improved on the visual indicators while using spectator, making sure that player nametags and objectives are properly identified, colors are properly set based on teams, first-person reticles and other components show up properly, etc. We still have a few exciting things coming up for spectator which we can't talk about yet, but we're sure you're going to love them.
Headless & Linux Servers
Private server hosting is another integral part of Venice Unleashed, and as such it is not a matter we take lightly. Up until recently, a VU server required a Windows machine with a display service in order to be able to properly function. However, that introduced two significant obstacles to server hosting off the bat: For starters, one needed a Windows license, something that not everybody can afford. Secondly, a machine capable of producing a display output was needed, something that's not standard for many server providers.
With that in mind, we set out to make server hosting accessible to an even wider audience by introducing headless (command-line only) server options in Venice Unleashed, along with experimental support for running servers on Linux distributions. Even though the latter hasn't been extensively tested yet, we think that it can already prove a very valuable tool for people wanting to get into server hosting for VU.
Upgraded UI Renderer
Our custom UI system (dubbed WebUI) is a core component of Venice Unleashed, not only because it allows us to provide users with the functionality required to interact with our client, but also because it enables mod authors and content creators to effortlessly craft unique experiences and interfaces for the game. As such, the performance and the features this system provides are very crucial when ensuring a smooth experience for both players and developers.
Over the past few months we've completely revamped the WebUI system by switching to a fully accelerated rendering solution with minimal performance overhead compared to our previous implementation. Additionally, we've made it significantly easier to interact with it, by simplifying the communication interface between it and VeniceEXT, and by also allowing users to directly stream and display content (such as textures) from the game.
The launcher is what makes Venice Unleashed tick. It's the software that's responsible of making sure your game launches properly with all the required components loaded and ready to be used. Our previous approach was rather "sketchy", and came with lots of issues. Our new and updated launcher is not only faster and better in every way, but it also gives the much needed fine grained controls over the game launch sequence, while also allowing us to greatly reduce the amount of dependencies required in order to launch the client. On top of that, Venice Unleashed can now reside in its own directory, completely separate from BF3, alleviating some concerns that were raised about EA blacklisting VU via PunkBuster file search checks.
Revamped Update System
For some, this could be considered one of the weirdest changes made to our new client, but there's no denying the fact that our old updater was barely ideal for what we were trying to do. Because of that fact, we undertook the effort of completely redesigning the update system in order to be able to more efficiently and quickly push out updates, while also enabling us to do some things that were previously impossible. The new updater is directly integrated with Venice Unleashed and our backend, offering an unparallel level of control over how we push updates, while also providing up to 8 times faster and 50 times smaller updates. With the new update system we can also push experimental updates to specific users, allowing us to test specific features before pushing them live.
The previous Venice Unleashed client did have a crash reporting system built-in, but it was barely working, if ever. In the new client, the crash reporting system is much better, and can provide much more valuable feedback to us when trying to debug and fix issues with VU. It's still not perfect, but it's a much needed and very helpful upgrade over what was previously there. We will keep improving the crash reporting system in the future, as it is an essential component when it comes to troubleshooting issues.
More Complete RCON Support
We've mentioned in the past that we've had to completely re-implement the BF3 RCON layer from scratch. Even though our previous implementation was relatively complete, it was still rather buggy and lacked a lot of features the original implementation provides. We're now happy to let you know that RCON support in VU now reaches 99% of what the original implementation offers. On top of that, we've greatly improved the performance of our networking layer, allowing RCON requests to be delivered more quickly and reliably.
By now you should've already gathered that VU has undergone some serious performance improvements over the past few months, from changes to the VeniceEXT system, to the WebUI renderer, but that's not all. The Venice Unleashed project has been completely restructured and many of its components re-designed from scratch with performance and modularity in mind. Even though not directly visible, these changes have a significant performance increase in our tests, while also boosting our productivity when working on VU, implementing new features, and maintaining it.
Venice Unleashed is still a very maturing project, so expect to see many changes, not only over the course of the beta, but also in the forseeable future.
With all that being said, we hope that you will enjoy what we've come up with so far, and we're excited to see you on the Battlefield!