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Oolite is modelled on Classic Elite - a very simplistic but very playable game published in 1984. Realism is often seen as conflicting with playability.



Oolite is modelled on Classic Elite - a very simplistic but very playable game published in 1984.

Realism is often seen as conflicting with playability. More realism requires suitable oxps. More playability is often accompanied by Handwavium.

Issues with Physics/Science & Economics

Classic Elite was written for early computers. David Braben's Frontier series (written a decade later for more powerful computers) tried to import more real-world physics and astronomy into gaming. But Oolite, being a copy of Classic Elite, suffered from the simplicity inherent in the early game. Thus the astronomy, the physics and the economics are all unreal simplifications which, however, combine to make a much more playable game.

As the years have gone by, there have been those pushing for a more realistic approach (originally, some who came to Oolite through Frontier), and other pushing for a more game-focused approach (perhaps those who preferred Classic Elite - Frontier had playability problems). The arguments on each side are good, and the open nature of Oolite means that there are a plethora of OXPs which modify the game in one's desired direction.

But restrictions in the coding mean that there are no black holes, no binary stars, no asteroid rings (this might be oxp-able) and no realistic solar texturing. There is no ability to fly from one solar system to another without a hyperspace jump (not even the 0ly jumps from Lazaso to Zaenza or Tetiri/Orlaed).

Issues with Equipment

There are no 3D depictions of the eight galaxies.

There are no depictions at all of what is in the solar systems (other than the ViewScreen views and the scanner - Telescope adds to this). Lists of distances, yes. Maps, no.

Issues with Gameplay

There is no ability to do anything inside one's ship other than pilot it (use the mediStim bay, sleep, eat, etc.). There is as yet no ability to perform an EVA. Interaction with the Orbital Stations is minimal - as is the ability to do anything different on the planet's surface (except for Feudal States). The crew for the larger ships do not exist in any meaningful manner.

Player centrism

There are also issues with player centrism.

  • 1) Tweaks to the vanilla game to make it more playable: giving a speed boost to the player's ship to help it escape mass-locks; not giving shields to NPCs to compensate for their lack of breakable equipment, no Torus drive for NPCs, etc.
  • 2) There are long-standing arguments about the extent to which the player ought to be able to really affect things in the game. See the System Populator Memory thread.

Realistic Solutions

Scale Oolite-011.jpg



In Oolite when you get hit, your shields absorb the damage. When your shields are gone, the damage impacts directly on your ship, and may damage equipment or trade goods. It never destroys equipment. It never causes damage to your hull, or fuel leaks, etc. This is remedied by these oxp's:

  • BattleDamage designed just to make damage more realistic (Smivs)
  • CustomShields shows visually the effects of damage - including fuel leaks
  • HardShips adds physical armour to the ships in the game - but also increases chances of eg fuel leaks

Player centrism

  • Cheating - despite being less player-centred than the original Classic Elite, there are still a handful of areas where the game code gives players an unfair advantage over NPC's. See the collection of "anti-cheating oxp's" listed here.



  • See Economics for a number of attempts to sort out issues with trade and markets.


Ooniversal Cooling YAH C 19.png


Here on the wiki

On the BB

Laws of Physics



  • Ubership has links to a number of BB threads on unrealistic ships
  • Dance the Balance has an analysis of ship size (ie cargo hold size) vs speed.



On the Other Hand...

Gameplay and Balance indicator

Sadly, making the game more realistic almost invariably involves making it tougher (often much tougher) to play!