Lots of new features and changes are coming to the next Oolite release (v1.82) - here are some of the major ones.
The combat balance in 1.82 has been significantly reworked to make the early game a bit easier for beginners, while still allowing plenty of challenges in the later game. AI responses to many tactics have been made more realistic - sometimes benefiting them, sometimes not! - and missile and laser performance has been tweaked to make fights last a bit longer and reduce the chance of the player being destroyed in seconds before they realise the danger.
Graphics and interface upgrades
We've made some improvements to some of the graphics and interfaces, with the main one being the fully zoomable and scrollable galaxy map, which replaces the separate short-range and long-range charts. Route plotting has also been improved: with the Advanced Navigational Array, you can set a route to the other side of the chart, and then jump along it a step at a time without having to re-plot.
We've also made improvements to multi-monitor support, explosion graphics, and planet textures, and introduced a "field of view" setting to Game Options.
The Expansion Pack Manager now lets you view additional information about packs (press 'i'), filter the list in various ways (press 'f'), or extract an installed pack to an OXP in your AddOns folder so that you can easily look inside it and customise it further (press 'x').
New expansion pack possibilities
Expansion pack authors now have many more options available to them for editing data which was previously hard-coded. As always, every Oolite release is more customisable than the last - here's some of the new options:
- Market and trade expansions can now define entirely new trade goods, with improved features for station OXPs to handle these goods. Economies can be completely rewritten - you're no longer limited to eight economies in a single Industrial to Agricultural line.
- GUI settings, colours, and display styles can be extensively customised through a new plist.
- Editing of system information has been significantly extended, with many more properties open for customisation - all the way up to the system coordinates - and an enhanced management and conflict resolution system for these properties to make it easier for expansions to coexist successfully.
- More HUD options, including runtime-editable image dials.
- The implementation of many core equipment items has been rewritten to allow much more customisation.
- In the OXP Developer builds, the OXP Verifier has a lot more syntax checking of key files without having to start up the full game, and various deprecated practices will be logged to help you keep your OXPs running smoothly.
- As usual, lots more JS properties and methods for additional flexibility.
All of this additional functionality can be extremely powerful, so as well as using it carefully in the normal Oolite universe, the Scenario support has been significantly upgraded to let expansion authors make full use of it as their imaginations permit.
Expansion packs can now be restricted to only load in their own Scenarios, which means you can make much bigger changes than before without needing to worry about compatibility with other packs, and do things which just wouldn't have worked before.
- Make a mini-series of mission OXPs which wouldn't work if the player could bring their own ship and experience, or wander off mid-mission to go and trade for a bit.
- Set the player in the middle of a major war between powers with definite front lines, regions, and battles - can they still make a living as a trader, pirate or bounty hunter when there's a full-scale Thargoid invasion on, and hundreds of systems have already completely fallen to them.
- Completely rewrite the galaxies, ships, equipment and rules to make your own new space game with the Oolite engine.