Launched into open alpha in 2002 by Milwaukee-based Guild Software, massively multiplayer space sim Vendetta Online has travelled a long way from Wisconsin over the past 10 years. Officially released in 2004 for PC, Mac and Linux, in 2011 the game was launched on Android devices, making it the first computer-based MMO to make the move to mobile. As far as Vendetta Online has come, a final frontier still remains unexplored. Guild Software wants to bring the game to the iPad, and they'd like a little help.
Vendetta Online's combination of exploration, trading and twitch-based space combat made the move to Android quite well, so there's no reason to believe an iPad version wouldn't be just as good. The only thing preventing us from finding out is the $US100,000 Guild Software is soliciting via Kickstarter to get the game onto the iPad, along with a substantial overall game update, polishing up the graphics (on level 3) and adding all sorts of bells and whistles that should get existing players digging deep into their wallets.
Deeper than they're already dipping, that is. Vendetta Online is one of the last of a dying breed — the subscription-based MMO. Each new player is given some free time to explore the universe, seeking out new life and new virtual civilisations, but eventually the $US9.99 a month kicks in. That money goes towards server, bandwidth and hardware maintenance and paying the salaries of the tiny team that's somehow managed to keep this universe expanding for a decade without outside assistance.
That a game with enough paying subscribers to warrant 10 years of continued operation needs to launch a Kickstarter to drum up cash for an update and an iPad port is an excellent example of why today's bigger MMOs are switching to the free-to-play model. The difference here is a large studio has the resources to make such a transition. I can't imagine Guild Software's stalwart handful of developers can say the same.
And so here they are, looking for at least $US100,000 to make Vendetta Online better and port it to the iPad. For existing players the real meat is in the stretch goals — I'd love to see landing on procedural planets and walking on stations implemented. And for newcomers, well that's the thing about Vendetta Online — it's a quick download and it runs on almost anything. Hit up the free trial and see if this is a universe worth expanding.
Vendetta Online to iPad and Updates [Kickstarter]