Oolite FAQ

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Revision as of 04:06, 22 December 2011 by Kaks (talk | contribs) (System Requirements)

Getting Started

Question: Where do I get the program? And what about the different versions that exist?
Answer: The latest 'official' stable release is version 1.76, and is available on the oolite.org download page for OS X, Windows, and Linux(x86). The last stable release made by the original programmer, Giles Williams (a.k.a. Aegidian) was 1.65 and is best available from his website oolite.aegidian.org. The latest test releases/development versions can be downloaded from BerliOS with installers also available for OS X, Windows and Linux. More detailed information can be found on the Oolite Bulletin Board, in the respective sections for Oolite-Mac, Oolite-Linux and Oolite-PC.

Question: What's the point of the game?
Answer: To fly from planet to planet, buying and selling goods, shooting pirates or committing acts of piracy. There's no goal other than perhaps to achieve the rank of ELITE.

Question: I'm still confused, how do I play?
Answer: It's a good idea to start with the Oolite ReadMe file for some basic information. For further information you may wish to consult the Oolite Instruction Manual here on the wiki. A load of helpful information can be obtained from Mr Gimlet, the quite talkative dockmaster on Lave Station. If you're a fresh graduate from the Flight Academy on the way to your first ship, you should see him. It's also a good idea to have a look at Ian Bell's Flight Training Manual for the original BBC Elite, although some of Oolite's control keys are different from the original, so be careful.

Question: How do I configure my joystick or gamepad for Oolite in Linux?
Answer: See Linux Joysticks and Gamepads.


Question: What do the various colors represent on the radar?
Answer: White - unpowered items that can't mass-lock the in-system drive (jumpdrive). Green/Yellow - navigation buoys. Yellow - powered craft. Red - powered craft identified as hostile. Green - space stations. Green/Red - thargoids. Purple - police. Blue/Red - police on intercept. Red/Yellow - active mine (about to detonate). Blue/Cyan - witchspace wormhole.

Question: I keep crashing when trying to dock. How do I dock manually?
Answer: Many young Jamesons have met a sticky end and had to be scraped from the docking port of Lave Station whilst attempting docking. Its fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Check the How to Dock guide from the Galactic Navy Flight Manual. Or you can get the Traffic Control OXP for friendly instructions given by the station crew as you try to dock.

Question: How do I make decent profits?
Answer: Trade between a Poor or Average Agricultural and a Rich or Average Industrial planet. Write down the prices for everything on both planets and find out where you make the most profit per ton. You can also download the Oolite Reference Sheet, which features a table with the average prices. From there you can figure out whether you're on a buyers' or a sellers' market. The Trading Chart allows you to create your own statistics along your way. This spreadsheet highlights Poor Agricultural and Rich Industrial planets on a star chart (the spreadsheet is in .xls format and needs the Analysis Toolpak installed). You can also earn credits by taking cargo contracts - courier goods of varied type and volume between planets near and far. The spreadsheet helps assess whether you will be be able to complete the contract on time, and so build your reputation as an outstanding courier. Another option is to fit one or more Passenger Berths in your ship and earn credits by transporting individuals who, for one reason or another, prefer not to use the commercial Passenger Liners to reach their destination. As with cargo contracts, you can build your reputation up, which will result in your being offered more lucrative fares.

Question: It takes so long to get to the station after each jump. Can I do anything to speed the trip up?
Answer: Well, space is huge. It is vast. I mean, have you ever imagined a football-field with an orange in one of the goals and a walnut in the other goal? If you haven't, then don't. It takes you nowhere. As will your ship's engine at normal speed. But then that's what your jumpdrive is for. Hit J, and your journey speeds up. Unfortunately your jumpdrive doesn't work when other masses, like ships or planets, are nearby. They will 'lock' it. And in the 'corridor' between the witchpoint and the planet you are very likely to meet other ships. On the other hand there is no rule that you have to stick to the corridor. Just leave it sideways in any direction with your jumpdrive engaged for about 10-15 seconds, and head for the planet then. Makes your voyage much smoother. If you're a bounty-hunter and eager to meet lots of pirates, however, this is not your method of choice.

Question: I have already made my first intergalactic jump to Galaxy 2, but now I remember that I forgot my Zero-G cricket set/food blender/deadly lobstoid/edible arts graduate on Lave/Tionisla/Xeesle/Reesdice! Or I just found out that there are some more missions I'd like to do in the first galaxy. So how can I jump back to Galaxy 1?
Answer: You can't. Unfortunately due to their very physical nature intergalactic wormholes allow for one-way travel only. Fortunately, though, the intergalactic wormhole in Galaxy 8 connects back to Galaxy 1. So you can go full circle. And you have to, if you want to return to the first galaxy. Of course that will cost you another 5000 credits for each galactic hyperjump. So the complete 8-Galaxies-Sightseeing-Tour has a pricetag of a total 40000 credits.

Question: I've got a trumble! First it was cute and fluffy. But then it started to multiply. Even worse, they started to eat everything on board and they are confusing my sights. I don't want them anymore! How can I get rid of them? Help!
Answer: First of all, don't feel embarrassed. It happens to all commanders sooner or later. I mean, they're really cute and fluffy, aren't they? But seriously, there are several things you could try. E.g. sell them to other unsuspecting noobs. If you don't find enough willing buyers, you could use your escape capsule and abandon your infested ship, hoping that they haven't yet made it into the escape pod, of course. I mean, you can always hope, can't you? If that all doesn't work for you, just remember the old Klingon saying: 'Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.' Now consider that for trumbles it's just the opposite. Want some BBQ-sauce?

Question: My keyboard doesn't have a particular key used by Oolite, or I even want to change the keyboard layout completely to my liking. What can I do to change the keys?
Answer: Oolite reads a key configuration file called keyconfig.plist that you can find at /AddOns/Config/keyconfig.plist; that is the Config-folder that you find inside your AddOns-folder; which is where you put your OXPs. (PC-users have to create the folder /AddOns/Config/ first and then drop a copy of the keyconfig.plist found in /Oolite.app/Contents/Resources/Config/ to this folder.) You can open this file in any text editor and change the ASCII values of the keys used to suit your own preferences. Information on the default keys is also found in the Oolite Keybord Controls-documentation here on the wiki.

Question: I've completed a number of native and OXP missions and my Cobra Mk. III has a number of new and funky pieces of equipment. However, I'm planning a change of ship, what pieces of equipment will I lose as a result?
Answer: Many missions award equipment as a result of either accepting or completing them. For the majority of ship equipment, trading ships will result in the equipment being sold as well, with a few exceptions. The Cloaking Device and the Mark Transponder Scanner, available from the (native) Cloaking Device and (OXP) Assassins missions respectively are transferred to your new ship. The Naval Energy Unit, although awarded with the completion of the (native) Thargoid Plans mission, will be sold when you trade ships. However, completing the mission allows you to buy these units from high TL systems.

Question: I’m using ECM-hardened missiles, but enemies are still able to destroy them! I never seem to be able to destroy enemy hardheads, though. What gives?
Answer: ECM-hardened missiles are not ECM-proof. The probability of a hardened missile being destroyed by ECM is 10%–34% depending on range, and if it is destroyed, there’s a 50% chance that it will detonate. This applies equally to hardened missiles fired by computer-controlled ships and those fired by the player. The most effective use of hardened missiles is to use them against relatively slow targets at moderate range, and only use them on nimble ships if you desperately need to force them to break of an attack. Also, don’t use your ECM until a missile is close to blast range (250 metres).

Specifically, the ECM sends out four pulses with different ranges, at half-second intervals. Each pulse has a 10% chance of destroying each hardhead it encounters. For a missile fired at close range, that’s 1 - 0.94 = 34.39% chance of being destroyed within two seconds.

Question: If I believe that sizes and distances in Oolite are given in meters, it is so unrealistic. The planets have a diameter of only 30–50 kilometers, and the suns are only 1000 kilometers away. Can't we get a little more realism in space, please?
Answer: First of all, remember that Oolite is a game, not a space simulation. This is because it wants to be a game, not a sim. So yes, sizes and distances are all messed up. Ships and stations are too big, planets and suns are too small, and too close to each other. But this is deliberately so, and we are not going to change it.

The reason is simple: Realistic sizes and distances don't make a good game. In reality space is so huge that you never would meet anybody else on your journey. Imagine the dozen or so ships you meet in the 500 or so kilometers between witchpoint and planet spread over the realistic 150 million kilometers between Sun and Earth. Even if your direction is only one degree off the perfect line, you would miss them all. And how interesting would that be for the gameplay? And finally, if you had a realistically sized station in front of a realistically sized planet, how would you ever even notice it? A grain of sand in front of a, well, planet. The result would be players in complete loneliness and virtually no interaction with NPCs. An utterly, utterly boring game. Therefore it was the right decision to screw realism in the layout of the planetary systems in Elite and Oolite.

Expanding the Game

Question: Speaking of OXPs, I've heard a lot about them. What are they? And where do I find them?
Answer: OXP stands for 'Oolite eXpansion Pack'. As the name suggests, an OXP is an expansion to the game. It can contain virtually everything: new graphics for your ship, new ships for the player and/or the NPCs, new stations, new missions, new fun. To install an OXP you simply have to drag it into your AddOns-folder (only the OXP itself, not the folder it probably comes in). And as for finding them, you're already at the right place. All OXPs are now (or will become) accessible through the OXP-page of the wiki. Just follow the link. And if you fancy trying to create an OXP, the modifying Oolite FAQ can be found here.

Question: Are there any OXPs that are highly recommended? Or can I get a list of 'must-have' OXPs?
Answer: This is a difficult one to answer, because it depends so much on personal taste. There is no list of 'must-have' or necessary OXPs that could be agreed upon by all—or even most—players or contributers. But if you have a look at the Oolite Bulletin Board, especially the Discussion- and the Expansion Pack-forums, you will surely find some topics about this question, and the personal answers of a couple of board members.

Why does this and that not exist?

Question: Will there ever be an Oolite Massive Multi-player Online Role-Play Game (MMORPG)?
Answer: At present Ahruman and Co. (the developers) have no plans to develop either Oolite or a separate branch to accommodate either an MMORPG or an MOG (Multi-player Online Game). This, however, doesn't mean one of you clever bods out there can't try ;-) We suggest you read this Bulletin Board thread before you commence though, it may save you a lot of hair-tearing!

Question: Can the range of hyperspace jumps/my fuelcapacity be increased?
Answer: No. Jumprange in Oolite is hardcoded for a reason. The game would become less challenging and thus less fun. (Although I can imagine hacks that give unlimited fuel.) And don't forget that there are already various ways of refueling while you are in flight.

Question: I want Laser Cooling Boosters!
Answer: There are none at the moment and the reason is simple. It would unbalance the game too much. If they were available for the player only, things would get too easy. And if the NPCs could get them, too, things would get too hard. It's all about maintaining a reasonable balance. So the ultimate advice on this is: Aim carefully. Don't waste your laser fire. Prevent overheating.

Question: The other day I got killed when I launched from a Rock Hermit/Behemoth/whatever, and all the profits/kills that I made before were gone. Why couldn't I save there? Why only on main stations?
Answer: First of all, congratulations to you for having internalized the Golden Rule: save early, save often! Unfortunately in Oolite you can save and load a commander only on main stations. That's because they are the only 'fixed' objects in space. The rest of the system is populated anew each time you load a game and is not saved in your savefile. So chances are that the Rock Hermit or Behemoth you docked with when saving simply wouldn't exist when you load again, and you would find yourself in nirvana instead of in a safe haven. To prevent odd behavior like this saving and loading is prohibited anywhere else than in a main station. Alternatively you could install Save Anywhere.oxp, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Note, however, that it is still in beta state. Read the documentation first.

Question: I would like to switch between different ships of mine, e.g. have a nice racer for the weekends, meanwhile leave my freighter docked somewhere and take it back on Monday. Why can't I do this?
Answer: What else do you want? Custom paintjobs and interiors? A millionaire's spaceship-flotilla, one for every occasion? Who do you think you are? Jay Leno??? (Apologies if you are Jay Leno, but then you should have something else to do than playing computer games.) Let me tell you something: Space stations are no garages. Docking bays are limited, and the 'garage'-fees would be prohibitive. Imagine everybody else out there would want the same parking facilities!—Having said that, there is also a technical reason: A player can't have two ships and switch between them, because for the game the player is his ship, and you can be only one ship at a time. There is no way of storing a ship in your savefile and retrieving it later.

Known Issues / Bugs

Question: Every so often some of the messages (either from other ships or from my ship) on the bottom of the screen remain and end up 'scrolling' up the screen to cover my gunsights. What's up with that?
Answer: The 'sticky messages' bug is, unfortunately, a long standing issue in Oolite, still present in 1.65 and a few releases since. Starting with Oolite 1.71.1 this problem has been eliminated. If you prefer an older version of Oolite, flicking between views (either internal or external) is probably the quickest way to clear the messages.

Question: Every so often I meet a ship or a cargopod that I can't lock on. My laser fire goes right through it. Sometimes it happens with a ship I have just killed. Sometimes after a while it even starts again firing at me, but I can't harm it anymore.
Answer: The 'ghost ship' bug is another very old acquaintance in Oolite, and again the tireless developers are trying to rectify this. In the meantime, ignoring the ghost ships (or cargo pods) is the best thing you can do.

System Requirements

Question: Does it work on Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) & 10.3 (Panther)?
Answer: Sadly, no. The minimum OS requirement for Oolite on the Mac is now Mac OS X 10.4. The previous stable version (1.65) is however compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.9

Question: Does it work on both Intel and PPC Macs?
Answer: Yes, since 1.65 Oolite has been Universal Binary. It was PPC only in previous versions.

Question: What's the latest version?
Answer: The last stable release is 1.76. The last stable and latest test versions can be downloaded from Oolite's homepage. More information can be found through the Oolite forums.

Question: Is there a port for the PC or Linux?
Answer: Yes. Both ports are stable and are at the same level of development as Oolite for the Mac. You can download Oolite for Windows and for Linux PCs from Oolite's homepage (click on "show all platforms" if you can't see the version you're looking for). Information on test releases can be found through the Oolite forums, for the Linux version, and for the Windows version.

Writing OXPs

Question: I would like to contribute to Oolite and write my own OXP, but unfortunately my knowledge in scripting/programming is limited. How can I get started?
Answer: First of all the Oolite community welcomes all efforts to enhance and enrich their favorite game, so be our guest! Many of us have started with very little knowledge, but over time were able to write and release astonishing OXPs, so why shouldn't you? Anyway, scripting can be learned. Currently there are two scripting languages in use for Oolite, plist-scripting (sometimes referred to as legacy-scripting) and JavaScript. For any serious OXP-plans you will have to learn them. A general starting point is the OXP howto-page, which will link you to further documentation. For plist-scripting you should read the OXP howto plist-page, and also the Property list-intro. Information on the ongoing implementation of scripting with JavaScript can be found in the Category page for scripting (work in progress). If you want to design a new ship, you should have a look at the OXP howto model-page and the OXP howto texture-page. And if you want to give it a behavior of its own, you should consult the OXP howto AI-page. I suggest you try to read and understand these first. If you still have questions afterwards, there is always the Oolite Bulletin Board, where lots of friendly people usually are very willing to lend a helping hand and to answer lots of questions.

Question: I want to write an OXP or add content to the Wiki, but some (or all) of the content was written by another author. What copyright issues do I face?
Answer: Anything submitted to the Wiki is on the basis that anyone else may edit or fiddle with it. OXPs are submitted under the creative commons licence. The author (stricty speaking) owns the copyright, but licences users to use or distribute the OXP as long as they don't sell or charge for it. In practice virtually all OXP authors don't assert copyright and are pleased and flattered that somebody thinks their stuff is worth writing about or pinching to use in another OXP (its good manners to credit the orginal author in the readme though). I expect the author will be pleased if you want to add some background, but if you are in doubt, send him a PM asking him for permission. At the end of the day, Oolite is a fun project and everbody is doing stuff for it on that basis. (nicked wholesale from Little_Bear's post on the Oolite Bulletin Board)

Diagnosing Problems

Question: Someone asked me for my log file. What is that, and where is it?
Answer: In the test releases of Oolite, various diagnostic information is written to a file called Latest.log. Where it is depends on your operating system:
  • Mac OS X: ~/Library/Logs/Oolite/Latest.log (that is, in your home folder, open the folder named Library, then Logs, then Oolite). Alternatively, select “Show Previous Log” from the “Oolite” menu in the menu bar when running Oolite.
  • Windows: in Oolite’s folder (typically in C:\Program Files), there is a folder called oolite.app, which contains a folder called Logs.
  • Linux and other Unix-like systems: ~/.Oolite/Logs (that is, in the hidden folder .Oolite in your home folder). If you’re using Nautilus or Konqueror—if you’ve never heard of them, you probably are—select Show Hidden Files from the View menu.

Other Questions

Question: I have a question not answered here, where can I get help?
Answer: Post your queries onto the friendliest board this side of Riedquat™. Satisfaction is not guaranteed, but then what is, in this mixed-up universe? Help keep the board friendly by making sure your question isn't already answered here!

If you want to report a bug, please read this. Yes, all that work is a drag, but if nobody reports the bug it probably won’t get fixed.

Or join us in #oolite, or #oolite-dev if you're working on Oolite or OXPs, on irc.oftc.net or ipv6.oftc.net.