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Oocheat OXZ
The Caduceus über-ship: 8 energy banks, front & rear lasers, 6 broadside mounted plasma cannons, 8 missile slots ...

Is it possible to cheat at Oolite? Does the term actually mean anything?

Cheat: definition (from

1) verb - transitive: ie it is done to somebody else: I cheated you

1. To deceive by trickery; swindle: cheated customers by overcharging them for purchases.
2. To deprive by trickery; defraud: cheated them of their land.
3. To mislead; fool: illusions that cheat the eye.
4. To elude; escape: cheat death.

2) verb - intransitive: ie it is not done to somebody else: I cheated. I can add you, but I don't need to!

1. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
2. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.
3. Informal To be sexually unfaithful: cheat on a spouse.
4. Sports To position oneself closer to a certain area than is normal or expected: The shortstop cheated toward second base.

3) noun

1. An act of cheating; a fraud or swindle.
2. One who cheats; a swindler.
3. A technique that exploits a flaw or hidden feature in a video game or computer program.
4. Law Fraudulent acquisition of another's property.
5. Botany Any of several species of brome, especially Bromus secalinus, an annual European grass widespread as a weed.

Etymology: Middle English cheten, to confiscate, short for acheten, variant of escheten, from eschete, escheat; see escheat.

1) So. I'm not playing Oolite with anybody else, so I can't cheat them!

2) Can I cheat "Oolite" itself? Oolite is not "fixed", like the rules of Chess or Cricket (although they are changed every once in a while). And, I can rewrite Oolite (if I have the skills) to do what I like, with the rules that I like - it is "Open Code". Or, I can use OoCheat OXP to give myself oodles of dosh, or even just write the extra dosh into my Oolite save file. But is any of this cheating?

3) Can I cheat the NPC's?

There has been much discussion on this subject, needless to say!

Player-centric gaming

The one area regarded by many as cheating is to have some advantage which the NPCs cannot get - category (3) above: that the playing field is unfairly tipped towards the player. This is tied in with the doctrine of player-centrism which it is felt that Oolite eschews (see Diziet Sma more recently - and Winston back at the start). Compared to Classic Elite, Oolite is indeed far less player-centric: it's not just that your ship moves inside the Ooniverse (rather than the universe moving around your ship - as in the game coding in Elite). The debates about the Energy Bomb (see there) show the importance of this - and how many people felt it was a cheat (the people who wanted to keep it, wanted to keep faith with Classic Elite where it was one of the five weapons in the original game). Oolite being Oolite, it was eventually removed but preserved as an OXP option. Also see the debates over Norby's Telescope OXP in the 2013 thread below, and the discussion half way through the 2012 thread.

But there are still at least three areas where Oolite retains some of Elite's player centrism: the Torus Drive (NPCs don't have it), the existence of Shields (NPCs just have Energy banks), and a 14% speed bonus for the player's Cobra vs NPC Cobra Mk IIIs.

There was some reasoning behind this. The lack of shields for NPCs was seen as a compensation for their lack of damageable equipment. The player's speed bonus enabled an easier escape from the dreaded masslock.

And again, Oolite being Oolite, people such as Cim, Ngalo ("equal rights for NPC's"), Rustem & Dybal started writing OXPs to try and even the playing field, fighting against cheating in category (3) above.

Svengali was very much against 'cheating' (whatever he meant by it), and tried to create a set of icons in the 2013 thread to let people know what the effects of an OXP would be on game balance. He had already in 2010 developed the OXP Levelindicators to indicate what sort of Elite Rating one would need to tackle the OXP (if a ship or a mission for example).
Smivs seemed to feel that cheating was adding an OXP which made the modified Oolite easier than the Vanilla game - category (2) above. He devised the Gameplay and Balance Indicator to show this (in July 2014). Switech seems to have had a similar perspective but focused on upsetting the game balance rather than deviations from the vanilla game. Commander McLane (2012) felt that even tampering with the 7ly jump limit breaks the game.

It is probably worth while taking a close look at Okti's collection in the Guide to Unlisted OXPs and their reception by the community on the BB. Some of the relevant threads seem to have been deleted, but he seems to have responded to the criticisms, taking them on board - see his description of SunSkimmerPod.oxp. It may be possible that the friendly nature of the Oolite community has exerted a social constraint on "cheating" activities - at least where it comes to public activities such as publishing .oxp's.

There are other matters which used to be regarded as cheating. For example, turning away from the space lanes to avoid mass-locks and piracy.

What is a cheat?

Well, anything that gives the player an unfair advantage by breaking/ignoring/circumventing the 'rules'.
That's the simple answer.
Vanilla Oolite is a very well-balanced game on the whole. A novice will find it very tough, a more experienced player will find it challenging and rewarding. An 'expert' player will find it far too easy, hence the OXPs that re-balance the game in favour of the NPCs such as my ToughGuys. The problem usually comes when inappropriate OXPs are used. An 'average' player who finds the vanilla game a bit of a challenge sometimes (Anarchy and Feudal systems can be demanding even in the basic game for example) is well advised not to use OXPs that add more danger and hazards. This, I think, is common sense.
And this can lead to a stupid 'arms-race' where the player feels they have to start using 'cheat' OXPs to counter the changes they have made to their Ooniverse.
If you install OXPs that add all sorts of fancy missiles, and tougher ships, and more 'baddies' you should be confident that you can live in that Ooniverse. Just adding more OXPs that 'cheat' in your favour is not the solution. The solution is to remove the problem, not add to it.
With regard to (Okti's) LongRangeScanner and JumpPlanner, yes of course these are cheats. They were originally designed as aids to OXP developers, not for the normal game, and using them in the normal game is frankly ridiculous. It devalues the game to the point where you might as well not bother! It's like playing Football (or any ball game) where the ball has a magnet in it which carries it into the goal whatever you do!
LRS removes all the 'fun' of never quite knowing what you will meet next and the extra information it gives will affect the decisions the player makes about how they will handle a new System, to the detriment of the game. JP is a mega-cheat! Multiple system jumps without using fuel! Come on, for goodness sake, this completely destroys one of the cornerstones of the game.
Great tools for developers, but they really don't have a place in playing the game, and surely that's what it is all about, isn't it? Playing the Game.

(Smivs (2012))


"Cheating" OXPs

Anti-cheating OXPs

Ships: Note that Aegidian originally improved the player's speed to allow escape from Masslocking!
Shields: Note that Aegidian originally removed NPC shields to compensate for their lack of breakable equipment.
Torus Drive
  • TimeSlip by Norby (2013) removes the Torus Drive and replaces it with Time Acceleration thus keeping the "speed" of the game, but not the advantage over NPCs.


Player-centric OXPs

These are not cheating per se - but create stuff depending on the actions of the player.


  • BB thread Winston on player-centrism (2005)
  • BB thread 2005/6 when flying an NPC ship was felt to be a cheat (even though Illicit Unlock OXP came out in 2005). This taboo did not last. See here (2011 - the feeling was already a minority feeling). And notice the Category at the bottom of this page which excludes Illicit Unlock (created by Jaz in 2013).
  • BB thread 2010 altering your save file (see 2021 comments by Tsoj & Stranger).
  • BB thread 2012 discussion in middle is based on player-centrist assumptions
  • BB thread Confessions of a cheater - WARNING: contains spoilers (2012)
  • BB thread 2013 more focused on cheating OXPs (and with links to other relevant threads)
  • BB thread 2015 Diziet Sma on using Cheat OXP
  • BB thread 2015 Smivs on why Laser Coolers would constitute a "cheat"
  • BB thread 2015 Tweaking your ship to make it Über
  • BB thread 2015 COMPETITION: unbalanced oxp-uber-mega-weapons!
  • BB thread 2017 rather short - but recent