Good morning.  It's finally time to share what's effectively the first major XPilot announcement in quite a while, and we couldn't be more excited.  But first, allow us to introduce ourselves.  We're 7b5 Labs, aka Michael Sherman and Sean Cier, aka Han Solo and Blueshift -- XPilot enthusiasts from the heady days of the mid nineties.  Back then, we played from our dorm on a pair of now-ancient SGI workstations, even ran a server and published a handful of maps.  These days, we find that our cellphones are in fact significantly more powerful than those workstations, and we started to wonder -- just what would the XPilot experience be like on an iPhone?

So we found out.  And then we got carried away.  And now -- in a couple days -- an XPilot client will be available for the iPhone and iPod Touch via the App Store.  How cool is that?

We made an effort to keep the look and gameplay entirely faithful to the original, though we added a number of features to fit the constraints of the phone platform: a new touch-based ship control scheme, a "dashboard" for weapons and other actions, even a speed-based "auto-zoom" feature to keep as much of the view visible as possible on the small screen while not losing the ability to do detail-oriented maneuvers.

Of course, we realize that what really makes XPilot is the community.  So our new client is fully compatible with existing servers and metaservers -- in fact, when you fire it up, it presents you with the metaserver's current list of running servers, and if anybody were to create a new map (polygon or raster) and start up a new server, the iPhone client would let you connect immediately.

We're hoping that this can spark a bit of a revival of XPilot and launch it back into the public consciousness, even if just to a small extent.  To this end we'll be doing our best to promote it, via blogs and whatever other outlets we can think of.  So be warned that if everything goes as we'd like, there could be a spike of traffic on game servers for a little while.  If you've wanted to fire up a new server, or polish off a new map, or even bring down any server that isn't going to be happy with people suddenly using it, now's the time.

We can't say for certain when XPilot will be available in the App Store, as that depends on how long Apple's review process (which was begun a few days ago) takes.  When it is, we'll be able to distribute a limited number of "promotional codes" for free downloads.  If any of you -- or other members of the XPilot community -- are interested in trying it out, just let us know in the next week or so and we'll make sure to get a code for you to download it for free as soon as it's available.

The source, on the other hand, is available today, linked from our web page.  It's a branch of the XPilotNG code, which can also still be compiled as a "traditional" client on other platforms.

We hope you're all as excited as we are.  Please drop us a line if you'd like to talk more about the new client.