Guide to Ambience OXPs

From Elite Wiki

This page focuses on several types of Ambience OXPs - those which affect all solar systems. Also those which change minor details of the planets (eg PlanetForests) and some of those which just change one individual system such as Tionisla.

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 others form part of complex oxp 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 Guide to Ambience OXPS.

A Povray Planets retexture


Distances and star varieties (Stellar OXP's)

Distant Suns (Type M)
Sun Gear (Advanced System Data MFD)

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)
No effect on suns. Realistic distances. But it may take 137 years to reach a distant planet! Adds in equipment making it possible. Oolite has problems with realistic sized planets if bigger than Mars. There are several OXPs in this suite
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 (depending on sun type).
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).

Sunspots and solar flares

The sun can be affected in other ways:

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


In the Vanilla game each solar system has just the one planet. The texturing of these is treated here. For adding more planets and moons, see further down this page.

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. The various suites of oxp's predate his work - or are incomplete. Povray Planets is probably the favourite (a lot of detail, and covers every main planet in the eight galaxies) but is too old to incorporate any of his improvements. BPlanets, (newer) is incomplete. See below for other options.

System Features: Rings

Simpler tweaks

Planet textures gallery

See the chart below for more detail.
Note that the best stuff (Povray Planets and the incomplete BPlanets & Famous Planets Overhaul) are not on the in-game Expansions Manager!

Note that the Povray Planets, Stranger's World & FPO textures are specific for Bemaera. FPO only details 100-odd planets in Galaxies 1 & 2. Older oxp's such as System Redux & System Demux merely assigned them one of 60-odd textures, also used by other planets in the galaxy.

Note that Planet Forests and Oceans act on the vanilla game texture, altering it to better match the F7 description ("Tibionis is most noted for the Tibionisian deadly goat and its vast rain forests").

Again, the Povray Planets & Stranger's World textures are specific for Lave. As are the BPlanets (Lave is one of the 119 earth-like planets included in this oxp) and the FPO textures (one of 100-odd). FPO Lave is an improved stand-alone oxp, the 100-odd specific planet textures in the FPO suite lack normal maps. Lave OXP's Lave includes city night-lights and the moon, Basta.
There is also Lave is Earth 8k which is not shown here, but which also includes city night-lights.

F7 screen "planet descriptions"

  • Planet Forests and Oceans (2019) ensures Vanilla game planets & F7 descriptions match (this became an issue with Oolite v.1.77)! As for Isinor just above ("This world is very fabled for its unusual oceans") and Tibionis further above ("Tibionis is most noted for the Tibionisian deadly goat and its vast rain forests.").
  • Famous Planets gives the F7 description (and, once upon a time, even theme music!) for the Povray Planets OXPs - see below.
So, for example, the Vanilla Game's Zaonce (This planet is a tedious place) becomes The Galactic Register called Zaonce a tedious place. They didn't correct it in later issues. Zaonce is actually one of the best-guarded, fun-packed secrets of Galaxy 1. Tourists will find attractions like the monstrous Hurricane Kev, dominating a huge swathe of the northern hemisphere. The planet is also known for the Zaonce Aurodrome, Zanadoo Zoo, Chateau d'if, and the perpetual parties going on in virtually every hotel on the planet.
  • *Famous Planets Overhaul (FPO) - in Stranger's Roolite suite - adds in an older version of the planetary descriptions above, but also maps out c. 100 highly detailed planets for Galaxy 1. Stranger is very much into astronomic realism, so gas giants have been replaced with more regular planets easily capable of supporting life.

More planets and moons

Galactic Almanac's MFD numbers all planets and their orbital stations
  • The very first attempt to do this was Charlie's. He wrote an initial 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.

  • Lestradae proposed another OXP along these lines in Dec 2007. It never happened, but the debate about it was interesting.
  • System Demux (Oolite) (2010) provided a selection of textures for planets and moons.
  • Orbits adds more planets but with the Vanilla game textures (2010)
  • DeepHorizon - Systems: (2011) Issues with v1.82 and onwards?
  • Povray Planets (2013): 8 Povray Galaxy Sets and Famous Planets (F7 descriptions) individually maps out every System's main planet 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). Sun Gear provides the MFD

Planetary OXP comparisons

System Redux System Demux DeepHorizon Povray Planets Additional Planets BPlanets Strangers World Famous Planets Overhaul
Functionability Broken Broken? Old
Old Recent Up-to-date
Up-to-date Up-to-date
Details all of Galaxy 1 Yes Yes Yes? Yes Yes Not yet Yes Not yet
Retextures main planet? No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Introduces more planets? Yes Yes Yes No? Yes No Yes No
Moons? Yes Yes Yes No? Yes No Yes No
Scientific realism for planets No No No No No No Yes Yes
Compatibility with other OXPs?
eg. stations placed at specific locations,
missions with specific locations etc.
Yes Broken? Unfinished Yes Yes'ish Yes No'ish Yes

For the several dozen extra space stations, there are two OXP's which add them to your extra planets:

The Additional Planets suite does this with Stations for Extra Planets
The Strangers World suite does this with Orbital Stations

Lave's Moon (Lave OXP)
Tionisla's Orbital Graveyard
Tionisla Chronicle Array
Lerelace (Taranis OXP)
Rexebe (Mandotech Shipyard)
G3: Ribiara (Aquatics OXP)

Planets (specific systems)

There are a number of OXP's which add character to individual systems. These can be planetary retextures (Lave, Zaonce, Riredi etc), special stations (Lave, Tionisla, Riredi, Lerelace, Tianve etc), special sights (Diso, Tianve), mission oxp's, etc.

Lave - there are over half-a-dozen oxps adding planetary textures (one also has city lights), a moon, stations, monuments, ships, etc.
Diso - Diso OXP - old but adds nebulae, planets and another station
Tionisla - the famous Tionisla Orbital Graveyard and the Tionisla Chronicle Array
Riredi - Riredi OXP - adds special station and planet texture with city lights
Lerelace - Taranis OXP - adds extra station and planet texture with city lights
Rexebe - Mandotech Shipyard - adds extra station
Tianve - Tianve OXP - adds pulsar, nebulae, extra station, extra ships and planet texture with city lights
  • Galaxy 2
(Ionics OXP affects the north-east corner of Galaxy 2)
Maesaron (Lave Academy - adds extra station)
Tezaeded (Mandotech Shipyard)
Xeabiti (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
  • Galaxy 3
Geusdi (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
Lezaer (RRS & Mandotech Shipyard)
Radiqu (Lave Academy)
Ribiara/Aqualina (Aquatics HQ - adds extra stations and ships)
  • Galaxy 4
Gebiisso (Mandotech Shipyard)
Mavelege (Lave Academy)
Quonso (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
Teance (Lovecats)
  • Galaxy 5
(Resistance Commander creates a war in the southern region of Galaxy 5)
Coyote's Run makes a difference to Galaxy 5
Cesousla Ryan's Villa
Maeser (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
Zaaner (Lave Academy)
Zaeredre (Mandotech Shipyard)
  • Galaxy 6
Edla (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
Estebiin (Xeptatl's Sword)
Oresmaa (Mandotech Shipyard)
Teesso (Lave Academy)
Veisin (Draven OXP) - adds station and also a planet texture with city lights
  • Galaxy 7
(The Assassins Guild OXP individuates quite a number of the systems in Galaxy 7)
Isdilaon (Lave Academy)
Quandixe (Mandotech Shipyard)
Zarausxe (Tionisla Chronicle Array)
  • Galaxy 8
(Iron Raven flavours a number of these systems)
Ceenza (Lave Academy)
Esusale (Mandotech Shipyard)
Maabile (Tionisla Chronicle Array)

Skies (light & nebulae)

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

  • DarkSoul Nebulae places 10 nebulae from NASA in your skies (these are coloured and may therefore lead to issues with seams)
  • 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.
  • KeeperSky (realistic: adjustable star density, dandruff & star distance) inspired by Frontier/FFE
  • 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 greyscale ones
  • Zygo Cinematic Sky & Nebulas - 70 nebulae, more complex, and if you can tweak, then you can alter all sorts of factors and customise your skies (these are coloured and may therefore lead to issues with seams)

Note that the Tianve OXP & the Diso OXP also introduce local lurid nebulae to those systems!
Ahruman's original discussion on how to do this is here: Draw Your Own Galaxy Contest (2007)

Nebulae textures gallery

There seem to be issues with introducing nebulae which are already coloured - this can lead to seams appearing around the nebulae. Greyscale images do not have these issues. But with greyscale, the nebulae only have the one colour, unlike the nebulae with mixed colours shown above.


Best to see Asteroid (Oolite) for lots of other textures, including Griff's Glowroids!

Also oodles of other asteroid-relevant OXPs, including one which controls how many asteroids appear (important for stopping low-spec computers having a fit of constipation!).

Other astronomical features!

...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:

And see Frame's 2017 YouTube film here where he discusses plans for barycenters such as binary stars, asteroid rings etc. - and having everything to a realistic scale.

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).

And a Black Hole WIP here: (Demo) Black Holes (Phkb, 2023)

As regards Binary systems, the vanilla game code currently allows only one star (light-emitting object) in each solar system. But see the discussion here. And the link to Frame's YouTube film above.


With the vast variety of OXPs out there, it is possible to mix and match. But see the warning Note about Stranger's World, below.

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's working together make for good variety in the planets, moons & stars in a system and add Gas Giants as well as rocky planets and moons.
Cholly's current cocktail
I prefer the realism of Strangers World, but add in his 100-odd FPO textures (including the updated Lave & Zaonce from the Expansions Manager). I then add in Povray Planets to texture the other system main planets which are not covered by FPO.

Note: Stations for Extra Planets now only works with the Additional Planets suite, so will not show in any of the other planet-adding oxp's listed far above (older versions worked with System Redux, for example).

Note: Stranger's World introduces both more realistic distances based more on astronomy than playability but it also introduces a different coding technique for placing objects in a solar system. There are fixes for some of this - see below.

Strangers World (Advanced System Data MFD)
1) Individual system oxp's: it adds to/overrides such individual system oxp's as Lave.oxp & Diso.oxp.
2) Stations:
in solar orbit: solar stations from other oxp's are often thrown into deep space instead (eg SLAPU & CZGF)
in orbit around main planet: replacement stations: some of the possible replacements for the main system orbital station such as the Globe & Torus stations are suppressed and never appear.
in orbit around main planet: secondary stations (eg. Aquarian Shipbuilding Corp. HQ) can end up being a looooong way away!
3) In-system activities such as Taxi Galactica and In-System Cargo Delivery: Planets and moons where you may be told to take your fare (or stations orbiting planets or moons) are now so far away that either you cannot actually get there within the time limit or if you can, it now takes so long that gameplay wise it isn't worth taking the missions. Note that Stranger's World does have its own replacement oxp for in-system trading.
4) Mission oxp's which rely on placing objectives in a particular part of a solar system and have told you where to find them (ha!).
See here for more detail.
And see the thread here for several fixes.


More radical rejigging

For more radical options see

Vaguely relevant