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Showing posts from 2015

Edge Engine December Updates

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As the month reaches its halfway point, more and more of the world is being hit by the realization that the big Christmas holiday is just around the corner--and there are still gifts to be gotten! Well, the same is true for Edge Engine, and so this week we have a pair of updates for your seasonal programming pleasure.

First, Edge VN has reached version 1.5.1 with a new update containing a handful of minor bug fixes and two not-so-minor additions to the dialog options system. First, it is now possible to run multiple consecutive dialog options in a single text block, including re-using IDs. Second, selected dialog options have been given a slight delay, which gives the user a chance to recognize that their choice has been acknowledged and the developer a chance to show off a bit more GUI flair! As always, details are in the included documentation, which can also be read online, here.

Second, the experimental Edge FMV player has been given a new feature: the ability to endlessly and seaml…

Final Fantasy VII Remake to Span More Than One Game

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It's long been well known that Hollywood isn't always the best of influences, and that it loves sequels. Recently we've seen these two realities come together in movie series that take their source content and divide it up to create multiple volumes where originally there was only one. Twilight, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games--all the cool kids are doing it, so why shouldn't videogames?

At least, that seems to be Square Enix's reasoning behind this latest bit of Final Fantasy VII Remake info. Hot on the heels of Sony's second annual Playstation Experience conference came a press release earlier today promoting again the gameplay trailer that opened the event's big keynote this past Saturday, which you can watch again (and again and again and again) below.



Now, if this was like any other press release it would stop there, everyone would nod, close the email, and move on. But it didn't stop there, and the information that followed left many scratching their h…

Sword Art Online: Lost Song - An Ode to SAO (Review)

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It's a bit hard to believe that what began as a formerly Japan-exclusive low-budget PSP title has now become an annualized multi-platform series for all regions, but here we are: Sword Art Online is just that popular, whether or not you are of the opinion that it deserves to be. And truth be told, following a painfully mediocre second anime season and two pretty 'meh' ports of the pretty 'meh' game that was Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, it was something of a mystery as to how Bandai Namco felt it could guarantee indefinitely more titles moving forward. As a result, the recently-released Sword Art Online: Lost Song for the Playstation 4 and PS Vita almost flew under my radar.

Almost.

Instead, now I'm the one doing the flying, and honestly enjoying every minute of it.

GameplayFor yes, Sword Art Online: Lost Song is all about flying. It's rare for videogames to allow this level of freedom of movement, but it's here in this game, and simply put, it's …

Hajime Tabata: "No Plans" for a Final Fantasy XV Sequel

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In an interview with Chinese gaming site VGTime during the annual Game Developer's Conference in Shanghai, China, director of Final Fantasy XV Hajime Tabata recently delved into some interesting discussion surrounding both pre- and post-release content for the next numbered title in the long-running Final Fantasy series. Once again a second demo for the game was hinted at, which Tabata said would contain different content than the Episode Duscae demo that shipped with copies of Final Fantasy Type-0 back in March. While he neglected to go into detail about what this 'different content' would entail, back before the release of Episode Duscae Tabata commented that perhaps the TGS demo of Final Fantasy XV could be converted into a playable area for gamers who missed out on Type-0's offering. Whether or not this is still on the cards for Square Enix remains to be seen. At any rate, if another demo is to be released Tabata assured players that it will be built for both Plays…

Edge VN Major Update 1.5.0 Released!

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Never say never...

Edge VN has been making major strides ever since version 1.3.0, and strap on your seatbelts, because while 1.4.0 was intended to be the end of this streak, Edge VN isn't done looking up yet! 1.5.0 is now out in the wild and packing even bigger upgrades than 1.4.0!

Literally every aspect of Edge VN was carefully re-evaluated and edited to make 1.5.0 as solid and user-friendly as possible. A few components were even nearly re-programmed in their entirety for even simpler and more efficient operation than ever before. The changelog is a long one this time around, so be sure to check out the Edge VN documentation for full details! And as always, you can also check out the Marketplace for more info and to get Edge VN for yourself, and existing users can download the update straight from their GameMaker Studio Libraries. You won't want to miss this one!

Internet Finds FFVIII's Promo Website is Still Up and Running

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Let's face it: the internet is a very fickle place. What's here today could easily be gone tomorrow with the flip of a switch. On a smaller scale, that switch is expected to flip eventually. Products become obsolete, companies go out of business, or for whatever reason traffic dies and leaves behind an empty wasteland of information that's good for nothing but racking up server bills. However, in the past couple of decades a few relics of an era gone by have managed to slip through the cracks and remain online, presumably tucked away in a forgotten folder on some shared server hosting multiple other sites of more present importance. It's long been known that the original Space Jam promotional website is still around (and serving as a living reminder of how hideous '90s internet could be), but a more recent find may be even more impressive.

Yes, the European promotional site for Final Fantasy VIII is still alive and kicking, Squaresoft logo and all. Even more impress…

Introducing Edge FMV - Video Playback in Native GML!

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If you noticed a few weeks ago in the announcement post for Edge FS that there were two super-secret projects in development around here and yet only one got announced, you may have been wondering what and where the second was. Well, wonder no more, because Edge FMV has seen the light of day and is now available to the general public!

Edge FMV started as an experiment--a hack, even--to see if it was possible to achieve video playback in native GML code--no extensions, no DLLs. While early tests showed promise, many hurdles still remained--so numerous and so challenging that a public release of Edge FMV seemed far from guaranteed. But one by one new breakthroughs were found, and now I am very pleased to present the grand version 1.0 to the world as the newest member of the Edge Engine family!

While Edge FMV retains its 'experimental' status and likely always will, in the past few weeks it has developed into something truly usable and even suitable for commercial purposes. The inc…

Edge VN 1.4.0 Update Released!

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Edge VN 1.3.0 was a defining moment for Edge Engine, and ever since that major release Edge VN has been focused on becoming as rock solid as possible to support new features with reliable functionality. First 1.3.6 provided sweeping improvements, and now 1.4.0 builds on what it started for the best version of Edge VN yet!

The 1.4.0 release packs numerous under-the-hood fixes and code cleanups to ensure the smoothest experience possible, and also adds yet another new feature: the ability to hide/show on-screen text! Visual novels are designed to pride themselves on artwork, and now Edge VN users will be able to enjoy characters and scenery free from obstruction while still enjoying voice acted dialog (if any) for a highly cinematic visual novel experience.

Because 1.4.0 represents the peak of a string of major updates, a new demo video has been created showcasing all the new features introduced since 1.3.0. Check it out!



As always, the latest version of Edge VN can be downloaded straight …

Edge Display Scaler 1.5.0 Update Released!

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Another week, another Edge Engine update! Following the major rewrite of Edge DS 1.4.0, 1.5.0 smooths out a lot of rough edges of both the performance, cosmetic, and functional variety.

New in this version is the ability to set minimum resolutions on all edgeds_set_* scripts, which also provided incentive to further unify script syntax. All edgeds_set_* scripts now follow the exact same syntax regardless of their unique functionality, making it easy to use and switch between different scaling modes.

Due to some user confusion on how and when DPI mode works in Edge DS, the built-in stats view now features a DPI adjustment warning when DPI mode is in-use. DPI mode is also now disabled by default--an 'opt in' feature rather than 'opt out'.

And speaking of things being 'out', Edge DS just got that much cleaner: the edgeds_get_prevscale script has been merged with edgeds_set_* scripts and is no longer necessary; therefore it has been removed from the package entirely.…

Hello Inspiration, Hello Edge FS!

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If you've been following the development of Edge Engine for any length of time, you're probably expecting the next module announcement to be that of Edge UI. Well, when inspiration comes knocking, it's usually a good idea to answer, and in this case development of Edge UI was temporarily put on hold for the development of a pair of super-secret experimental projects, one of which is experimental and super-secret no more. In fact, it's available right now!

Introducing: Edge Engine Filesystem!
Edge Engine Filesystem, or Edge FS for short, is a new Edge Engine module designed to make save and load operations as easy and robust as possible. A single script can save and encrypt virtually every data type supported by GameMaker Studio, and additional scripts provide even more layers of information to complete the package. And yes, I did say encryption--just saving files is all well and good, but what if you don't want users of your applications fiddling with the settings ou…

Major Update! Edge Display Scaler 1.4.0 Rewrite Released!

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It's hard to believe, but in a couple months Edge Display Scaler--the first Edge Engine module to be released--will be turning a year old. It's been quite the year, with multiple new Edge Engine modules developed, iterated, updated, and in some cases, even revolutionized. As it stands, all currently-released modules have reached a sort of parity in terms of both quality and the user experience...except Edge Display Scaler. As the first module, it naturally carried along with it the most baggage from being a new venture. But now it reaches a new stage of development as the entire thing has been re-edited and in many cases re-written from the ground up.

Edge Display Scaler 1.4.0 is not the display scaler you once knew--it's one of the most extensive rewrites in the Edge Engine family, and while it accomplishes many of the same tasks as before, it now does so with better, more consistent, more user-friendly code inspired by user feedback. That means a few important new feature…

Final Fantasy Agito+ Cancelled for Vita, Mobile

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It's well known that Square Enix has a habit of biting off more games than they can chew, and now following the announcement of Final Fantasy VII G-Bike's cancellation news has broken that another Final Fantasy spinoff is also getting the axe prematurely. Final Fantasy Agito was a mobile tie-in game to Final Fantasy Type-0, confusingly enough bearing Type-0's original name. Despite being a mobile spinoff Agito was actually a full-on RPG and visual novel in its own right, even borrowing many assets from the original PSP version of Type-0 and further fleshing out its bigger brother's convoluted story and myriad characters. It launched in Japan as a free-to-play title in May of 2014, and at E3 a month later it was announced for a western localization alongside the Type-0 HD remaster for PS4 and Xbox One. A premium Playstation Vita port titled Final Fantasy Agito+ was also planned for both regions.

Unfortunately, with the Playstation Vita's troubled support from Sony, S…

Edge VN Update 1.3.6 Published - Fixes, Fixes, Fixes!

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As promised, internal development switching gears to Edge UI doesn't mean Edge VN is being left behind--far from it! With so many big features in place and iterated to maturity, it was time to step back, look things over, and work out all the kinks along the way. Bug fixes, refinements, and feature improvements are the names of the game on this one, so you'll definitely want to check out the new version and make sure to update all your Edge VN projects from older versions of the package.

The highlights:

Added support for a third sprite in edgevn_draw_prompt as an ‘auto’ mode indicator.‘Auto’ mode now prevents manual skipping/continuing while enabledFixed a bug where ‘auto’ mode and dialog options would conflict, preventing options from workingImproved touch scrolling in edgevn_log_scroll_swipeImproved text engine with support for arbitrary framerates and successFixed multiple bugs regarding italic text
And as always, you can get the full details in the downloadable online documen…

Destiny 2.0 - It's Nice to be Proven Wrong

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In general, nobody likes being contradicted. But sometimes, every once in a while being proven wrong about someone or something can mean the difference between disliking or liking them. Yes, in that order.

Fabled game developer Bungie has been in a bit of an awkward spot pretty much since their latest endeavor, the MMOFPS Destiny, released. It pretty much immediately fell out of favor with reviewers, and while much of the player base initially disagreed with critical opinion, the longer the world spent with the game, the deeper everyone watched its cracks form. While it has never really lacked players, Destiny has long been short on customer satisfaction, and the addition of two $20 expansions more or less failed to swing the drifting ship back onto its course. In fact, the game remained such a mess of a product that at one point I declared there was no fixing it without fundamentally reworking the game from the ground up—something any company would normally be reluctant to do. The amo…

Edge VN 1.3.0 Update Released!

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The unplanned updates to Edge VN just keep rolling in! You asked for it, and Edge VN delivers! The new 1.3.0 update is chock full of new and improved features, such as an overhauled, simplified, more readable text engine that now supports bold and italic text markup! Thanks to the changes it is now also possible to have variable typewriter effect speed in real-time (credit to Ronald 'mudora23' for this idea). Characters have also been enhanced with some minor under-the-hood improvements, and a new script has been added to allow switching dynamic animations on-the-fly just like sprites. And for some icing on the cake, another new script adds touchscreen scrolling support to the text log with custom sensitivity! It's above and beyond the 'feature complete' 1.2.0, and you know what to do: open up your asset libraries and update, or head over to the Marketplace to grab the latest and greatest Edge VN for yourself!

Have a comment or feature request? Keep that feedback co…

Edge VN Minor Update 1.2.1

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A new update has been published for Edge VN adding two minor, but important features to the new branching dialog options system:

1) Text options can now continue on in the current text block rather than create new text blocks by necessity, and

2) Text options can trigger jumping to a specific string of text within the target text block.

This does mean the addition of a new argument to edgevn_draw_options, so be sure to update your code accordingly. Check the built-in syntax guides or the updated documentation for more details, and as always head on over to the marketplace or your Game Maker Studio asset library to grab the update for yourself!

Edge Engine, 6 Months Later

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2015 has been a highly transformative year for ThinkBoxly. That's true both in a literal sense—with the year starting off with a change of web host and CMS—and a figurative one. As ThinkBoxly evolves into a brand, much of the work that goes on around here is now somewhat behind-the-scenes. The first ThinkBoxly-branded product, Edge Engine, has become a heavy focus for the site and many, many hours have been poured into making it as great as it can be. While Edge Engine's roots lie as far back as the second half of 2014, it wasn't until February of this year that it truly came to life with its first published module: Edge Display Scaler. It's hard to believe six months have already come and gone since that time, but here we are, and today Edge Engine stands on a rock-solid foundation that will be the basis for great things to come. Here are the highlights of Edge Engine's first half-birthday.

Edge Display Scaler is now version 1.2.8


While not the first module to be pr…

Edge VN 1.2.0 Released!

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It's finally here! Edge VN 1.2.0 was first teased all the way back in June, and now it is published to the Marketplace for your downloading pleasure. While it may not be the biggest update in sheer quantity of changes and additions, what 1.2 does feature are a few critical pieces to the Edge VN puzzle that really round off the module and make it more or less 'feature-complete'. I put 'feature-complete' in quotes because this will by no means be the final update to Edge VN--in fact, there are already a couple new line-items on the to-do list even now--but with version 1.2.0 it is practically everything the original vision for Edge VN aimed to be. All of the basic elements of visual novels are there, and they're fast, efficient, readable, and powerful.

So what's new in version 1.2.0?
First, as promised dynamic characters have returned, fully re-written. With the new primitive-based dynamic character system it is easy for Edge VN users to create real-time animat…

How to Disable Forced Automatic Updates on Windows 10 (Tutorial)

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With Windows 10 mere days away as a free upgrade for the majority of consumer Windows 7 and 8 users, many have found their excitement for the latest version of Microsoft's OS hampered somewhat by the news that out of the box further updates will be forced. As in, without asking for your permission first, all updates to Windows 10 and (optionally) Windows-related software and services will download, install, and even reboot your PC if necessary. Good news? Hardly. While the word 'update' sounds like a good thing and it makes sense that Microsoft doesn't want their OS to fragment among their userbase, it can be pretty inconvenient to be in the middle of work or play and suddenly have your PC take the reigns to do its thing. Worse, if you're a frequent user of Windows' hibernate feature, you'll find that your PC turns itself on when it needs to update and freezes on BIOS-based motherboards due to the updated session mismatching the session you saved when the P…

Edge VN 1.1.2 Minor Update Released

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Add another to the list of unplanned Edge Engine updates! Edge VN 1.1.2--not to be confused with 1.2, which is still on its way--is now live on the marketplace. This is just a minor usability update, but it is still recommended to jump on it as soon as possible, because there are a few syntactical changes that will be easier to adjust to sooner rather than later.

The first change is a new option to draw Edge VN scenes as foregrounds, covering up all other assets. This is particularly useful for fading scenes out, and a solid black scene is included to do just that. The other change is the addition of a new transition for textboxes--or rather, the addition of no transition at all. In the past the default transition was a brief fade, which though subtle can still be jarring when changing text blocks. With this new addition, it is now possible to set both textboxes and characters to appear instantaneously, creating seamless transitions from one text block to another. However, this also me…

GPU Wars: GTX 960 vs GTX 770 (Unboxing and Benchmarks)

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Not all advances in technology are about being faster or stronger. Sometimes the most interesting developments come in small packages—both literally and figuratively. Such is the case with the NVIDIA GTX 960, a GPU on the low end of the current Maxwell generation that thanks to some aftermarket tinkering might just be able to replace last generation's Kepler mid-range cards despite some rather odd limitations.

NVIDIA's X60 cards have long been an attractive consumer product—the 'sweet spot', as they call it, of price versus performance. But while in the past X60 cards have been some logical combination of good and average features, lately it seems much less effort has been put into making these GPUs as good as they can be in the target price range. As such, while even the Fermi-based GTX 460 had a 192-bit bus, the GTX 960 has only a 128-bit bus. While the 460 had only 100 or so fewer CUDA cores than its bigger brother the GTX 470, the GTX 960 is lacking well over 500 CU…

Edge Display Scaler Update 1.2.8 Released!

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Another weekend, another update to Edge Engine, this time again for the popular Edge Display Scaler. The new 1.2.8 update builds off of what was introduced in 1.2.6, improving support for mobile devices with super high-resolution screens exceeding GameMaker Studio's 2K limitation, as well as dramatically improving the performance of both single-axis and forced-resolution scaling scripts.

On capable PCs the FPS gain will likely be relatively insignificant, but mobile devices should see gains of up to 1,000% over 1.2.6, depending on the hardware and target resolution. On top of all that, 1.2.8 also packs a few minor other improvements and bug fixes.

You all know what to do: it's updating time!

Grab the new version now!

Edge Splash 1.5 Update Released!

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Wait, what? Edge Splash is already at 1.5?

Yes, it is, and for good reason! This new version of Edge Splash is not a mere update--it is a completely rewritten, overhauled module. A new product, in essence, just one that happens to imitate the functionality of the older product.

Why the rewrite? A number of reasons, most of them marinated in technical jargon. So, put simply: Edge Splash 1.0 was bad. Clever, yes, and an achievement in its own right for being a one-line code solution, but this one-line focus convoluted the product as a whole and limited usability to a certain set of admittedly unimpressive features. Things only got worse as the rest of Edge Engine developed and evolved to a certain set of code standards that Edge Splash 1.0 simply did not and could not adhere to.

So it was rewritten. Completely. The basic goals of Edge Splash remain the same: be as simple to use as possible, and create really slick looking splash screens. But with the 1.5 rewrite, Edge Splash truly pushes t…

Mobius Final Fantasy Hands-On Review — The Oddest Duck Yet

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Though it's not available in the west and Square Enix has not announced any intentions to make it so (though it probably will—just look at Chaos Rings 3), yesterday I had the opportunity to go hands-on with Mobius Final Fantasy, recently released in Japan on iOS and Android. The game was pushed as a full-scale console RPG on smartphones, but in the end it looks and plays more like a tech demo for the new Unity 5 engine than a direct companion to previous entries in the Final Fantasy series. The combat is fun enough—the controls are simple enough to execute with one hand (which is the intention—the entire game is designed in portrait orientation) and yet it doesn't sacrifice depth in being easy to maneuver. Of the Final Fantasy series it's most like Final Fantasy XIII's battle system, except it actually feels quite at home on a smartphone. The problem is...that's about all there is to the game. Despite its pretty visuals, Mobius Final Fantasy is more akin to Record …

BenQ MH630 DLP Projector Review

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While TV sets slowly limp from 1080p to 4k and by and large have yet to come down to equilibrium pricing, projectors have also gained popularity as TV alternatives, but with one caveat: most affordable projectors aren't even up to full HD yet, if HD at all. In recent years cheap LED projectors have given projectors new life on the home user market, but at the cost of brightness, pixels, and most advanced features considered standard on higher-end models. Not to mention that while these days practically all projectors brag about being HD, most only accept a 1080p input and then project it at 720p or 480p instead. The BenQ MH630 falls in neither the high-end nor deceptively low-end category, instead offering an affordable set of compromises without sacrificing image quality. And if you're a home user looking to watch movies or play games on the largest display possible, it may just be the best option for you currently out there.

The UnitThe BenQ MH630 was released onto the market…

Edge VN 1.1 Update Released!

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It was a long time in coming, and then a long time in coming again, but now it's finally here, as promised: Edge VN 1.1 is now live, and a massive update to 1.0. Nearly 50% of 1.0's code was edited or rewritten, and many new features now join the roster as well. Edge VN 1.1 is the fastest, easiest, and best visual novel engine yet! If you're a new Edge VN user, you can pick it up from the Marketplace now. Existing users should delete Edge VN 1.0 from their projects' 'Extensions' folder and download/import the new version from the Marketplace Beta > My Library section of the Game Maker Studio IDE. Because so much has changed, you'll also want to give the documentation a read to see what's new and how to update old projects to the new version of the engine.

The features of Edge VN 1.1 have already been discussed in a previous blog post, but there is one omission to make note of: backtracking. It was only ever subtly advertised, but nonetheless because i…

Edge Display Scaler Update 1.2.6 Released

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You aren't imagining things, Edge Display Scaler really did just jump from 1.2.3 to 1.2.6! This was not an anticipated update, however when it was brought to my attention that 1.2.3 did not support Android devices with resolutions in excess of 2048 pixels in either direction (e.g. Motorola Nexus 6, LG G3), I got right on to discovering why and developing a solution. At the same time, a long-requested feature for Edge Display Scaler has been the ability to scale in one axis while leaving the other at a fixed pixel resolution. Since an update was in order anyhow, I also managed to throw in this feature. And for the cherry on top, Edge Display Scaler also now features a new DPI scaling mode that will attempt to scale not just based on pixels, but on the physical size of the display.

With smartphones and tablets getting increasingly higher-resolution screens it's not enough to simply adjust an application to fill all the available pixels. While this results in a non-letterboxed, ve…

Coming Soon - Edge VN 1.1

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It may be a bit quiet around here as of late, but behind the scenes things are moving faster than ever before for Edge Engine. Edge VN was the biggest release yet, but being the first iteration of its kind for Edge Engine it left a lot of room for additions and improvement, and Edge VN 1.1 will deliver on most of them shortly. All features for the update are currently in-place and in-progress, with only a handful of outstanding checkboxes left to be ticked. Originally the plan was to have the update published by this weekend, but certain features are proving to be a bigger challenge than originally anticipated, so please be patient while 1.1 gets the finishing touches to be the best that it can be.

Here's a quick rundown of what to expect:

Updated syntax: Edge VN 1.0 relied heavily on 'if' statements and custom code to control the finer details of script parameters. A major goal of the 1.1 update has been to eliminate the need for additional code by providing new built-in sc…