Guide to Ambience OXPs

From Elite Wiki

This page focuses on two types of Ambience OXPs - those which affect all solar systems. Not those which just change one individual system such as Tionisla, or those which change minor details of the planets (PlanetForests).

Oolite's collection of Ambience OXPs is a rather rum selection. Some aim at scientific realism in varying degrees. Others aim at spectacular eye-candy. Written by human beings rather than disembodied organic brainlets, some are stand-alones whilst some form part of suites. Some just twiddle with the one thing (eg distance to the sun) whilst others do many different things (distance to the sun, colour of the sun, grade of quirium scooped from the solar corona etc).

Hence Cholly's partial Guide to Ambience OXPS.

Griff's Glowroids (not yet included here)

Suns (distances and varieties)

Tweaking of the distance between the planet and the sun started early. Here are 7 OXPs which do this.

  • Kaks Far Sun Simple (March 2008) Just the one .oxp
  • Wildeblood’s Sensible Sun before 2011
  • KeeperSky (realistic: adjustible star density, dandruff & star distance) inspired by Frontier/FFE (before 2016)
  • Knotty’s Realistic Stars (Richard Knott; July 2012)
Affects look of galaxy, star colour, corona size and distances. Constant size for sun coronas. (RealisticStars & Realistic Stars SSC seem identical)
Keeps the same basic distance between the planet and sun but varies it according to sun colour/star type.
  • Rustem’s Distant Stars Later (Oct 2017) Combines with cim’s Sunspots.oxp
As for Wildeblood, but adds variable corona flares, local economy correlated with star type and with observed reality etc.
Partly done in collaboration with Wildeblood, Stranger & cim.
  • Stranger’s Sun Gear Most recent (July 2020 - but started in 2013): part of the Strangers World suite of OXPs for more experienced players.
Requires Stranger’s Habitable Main Planets OXP which redefines planets radii, and may need a selection of other OXPs from the Strangers World suite.
Varies distances according to star type. Star types correlated with observed reality.
Varies star radius and luminosity. Includes solar flares and solar winds.
An Advanced (Solar) System Data MFD displays 2 pages with data on sun & planets (Lock Advanced Space Compass onto sun or planet and then cycle through your MFD modes).

Stellar OXP comparisons

FarSun Sensible Sun KeeperSky Realistic Stars Distant Suns Distant Stars Strangers World
Author Kaks Wildeblood Keeper Knotty Wildeblood Rustem Stranger
Functionability v.1.73+ v.1.65+ v.1.82+ v.1.80+ v.1.80+ v.1.84+ v.1.82+
Increases distance to sun Yes Yes Yes Yes Varies it Yes Yes
Changes colour of sun No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Changes size of sun No No No No Yes? No? Yes
Affects solar flares No No No No No Yes Yes
Changes show up on F6 chart stars No No No Yes? Yes Yes Yes
Star class listed No No No No F7 page F7 page MFD

Planets (descriptions, extra planets, moons and extra textures)

This does not include individual planet OXPs (eg Lave OXP, FPO Lave, Tionisla Orbital Graveyard etc.)

Tweaking relationships between planet & F7 description

Tweaking of the Vanilla game's one moonless planet for each sun model.

  • The very first attempt to do this was Charlie's. He wrote an inital Plannets.oxp back around 2006, then got distracted by his Orb.oxp, then was swallowed up by Real Life ... and that was that!
  • System Redux (Oolite) fully mapped out every system (with planets, moons and stellar environment).

The first version (April-2007) just added extra planets and moons. By mid 2008 it was also changing the main planet to resemble the Vanilla game's F7 description (or the Famous Planets description. Last version was 2011.

  • System Demux (Oolite) (2010) provided a selection of textures for planets and moons.
  • DeepHorizon - Systems: (2011) Issues with v1.82 and onwards?
  • Povray Planets (2013): 8 Povray Galaxy Sets and Famous Planets (F7 descriptions) fully map out every system in the 8 galaxies.
  • Additional Planets (SR) adds random textures to extra planets/moons only (2013-7).
  • BPlanets for system 1.90 (2020 ...) - Graphics for the 119 earth-like main planets in Galaxy 1 (Jan 2021 - hopes to cover the other main planets too).
  • Planetary Systems & Moons in the Strangers World suite - maps out every System's main planet, rest is randomised (most recent versions 2020).


With the vast variety of OXPs out there, it is possible to mix and match. Here is one of LittleBear's tried and tested recipes:

Distant Suns OXP gives stars different colours and classes. It also sets the distance between the habitable main planet and the sun depending on the star type. So if the star is a Red Dwarf then the habitable planet is closer to the star. If the star is a larger yellow star then it is further away. To get a more interesting solar system I'd suggest:-

System Redux (plus all the texture packs).
Povray Planets.
Distant Suns.

Stations for Extra Planets will also add some space stations in orbit around some of the extra planets.

You might also like:-

Solar Flares.
System Features: Rings.
System Features: Sunspots.
Asteroid Storm (adds better models and textures for asteroids).

to further spice up your solar systems.

All are in the Manager under Ambience, except for Povray Planets and Orbits, which you'd need to download from the Wiki.

Those 9 OXP working together make for good variety in the planets moons and stars in a system and add Gas Giants as well as rocky planets and moons.

Graphics improvements in the Vanilla game

Another commander, our most active developer, has been improving the rendering of planets continually with every version since 1.84 (in 2016):

  • 1.90 (2020) - Extended graphics capabilities for custom planets, improved and configurable planet atmosphere, filmic tone mapping
  • 1.88 (2018) - new lighting system improvements and atmospheres
  • 1.86 (2017) - Shader-based atmosphere effects, Perlin 3D-based planet textures, default ambient lighting changes

This means that the most recent OXZs have been able to take advantage of these improvements.

Planetary OXP comparisons

System Redux System Demux DeepHorizon Povray Planets Additional Planets BPlanets Strangers World
Functionability Broken? Broken? Old
Old Recent Up-to-date
Details all of Galaxy 1 Yes Yes Yes? Yes Yes Not yet Yes
Retextures main planet? No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Introduces more planets? Yes Yes Yes No? Yes No Yes
Moons? Yes Yes Yes No? Yes No Yes


There are several OXPs which affect the skies and/or the nebulae:

  • DarkSoul Nebulae places 10 nebulae from NASA in your skies
  • Darkspace removes the nebulae from the sky and limits the number of stars visible. It's based on the same concept as clearskies.oxp by johnsmith (broken). Useful for old computers whose graphic chips are feeling their age!
  • Deep Horizon's Lights Down OXP lowers ambient light within the system to give a more natural feel to planets and ships. It also increases the background star-count, and increases the intensity of the nebulae that appear in the background to give a more cinematic feel.
  • Realistic Stars (from above) also affects nebulae & star density to more resemble what we see in our skies
  • Submersible Nebulae - simpler - just replaces the four models of nebulae in the Vanilla game with new ones
  • Zygo Cinematic Sky & Nebulas - more complex, and if you can tweak, then you can alter all sorts of factors and customise your skies
Note that the Tianve OXP & the Diso OXP also introduce local lurid nebulae to those systems!


...Rings, Solar flares, Quasars, Binary Stars, Black Holes etc.
Alas, we don't have much of this stuff in Oolite. See Cool OXPs for celestial objects. But we do have:

As regards Black Holes, Charlie of Benolubiweed fame worked on one back in 2006/7. Sadly, if you look in his Black Hole folder, you will find a Black Hole (and sadly, it seems to have swallowed him, too)! There are also one or two ideas here: Are there any Black Holes OXPs? (2012).


More radical rejigging

For more radical options see