We are making good progress on version 7.53, and hope to have a release within a few weeks. This is a short turnaround from 7.52, but we had a few major breakthroughs as well as some tweaks and bugfixes, and want to get this stable version out before we start on Alien Arena 2012, which will involve some more substantial things.
Real quick, here are a couple of demo shots of some new rendering features. One of the major complaints we have had is that visibility of players can sometimes be poor due to the players blending into the scenery that is often pretty detailed and gritty. This wasn't a problem with team based games, as we've always had a pair of glowing orbs on their shoulders that denoted their team. So what we did is take those orbs, and color them green for non-team based games, and put an option so that servers could turn this on or off. We also spent some time improving the rendering of vegetation, not only making it look better, but optimizing it to run faster.
The big news for 7.53 is that we've moved more of our rendering into vertex buffer objects, increasing the rendering speed by 20-25 percent in most cases. We've really spend a lot of time making the engine faster over the last year. Maps that ran about 70 fps in version 7.45 now run around 165 fps. Other items we've been working on include entity definition files, so that you can now have multiple versions of the same map, such as tca-zion and ctf-zion without needing two separate bsp files. There are a number of other items that I will talk about at release time as well, but two items that I'd like to mention, are that we also added two new maps! Ctf-Zion, and Tca-Invasion are to be included with 7.53, and from intitial playtesting, might be among the two best maps of their respective game types.
7.53 is hopefully going to be a stable, long lasting release. Following this, we intend to overhaul the UI, revamp a number of maps and models, and probably add in another player character or two. Alien Arena 2012 should be hitting the internets some time in the spring.