User:Another commander

From Elite Wiki
Another_Commander's Bug
He also takes stunning photographs!

This worthy gentleman joined the boards in 2007 and wrote the code for the Advanced Navigational Array (ANA) and the Docking Protocol. Joining the developers, he has managed to survive and continue contributing to Oolite whilst Real Life slew all around him in droves. He worked with Ahruman in implementing the Javascript Engine (SpiderMonkey) across all 3 versions of Oolite (AppleMac, Windows & Linux). He also has been invaluable over the years in updating components of Oolite (eg enabling the loading-up of oxp's across all the versions), and rewriting the planetary descriptions. With an penchant for graphics (among other things), he has done the bulk of the coding since Cim retired as Lead Designer after v.1.84. He spearheaded the move to the new Oren-Nayar diffuse light model in v.1.90 together with a yet more sophisticated rendering of planets. In v.1.88 he brought in an improved lighting system, whilst in v.1.86 he had introduced high-definition graphic resolution and improved the graphics for planets.


OXZ using the new graphics capabilities which A_C_ coded into Oolite version 1.88

OXZs displaying the new graphics capabilities which A_C_ coded into Oolite version 1.90

Advertising Oolite (alternative binary distribution)

As you know, Oolite has been designed to be portable and playable even from a USB stick. Here is a little experiment for those feeling adventurous to take the concept a little bit further: What if you could have a simple and very easy to move around distribution of the game, at the same time offering a more up to date visual and audio experience? Something that you could use to demonstrate Oolite to a friend, with plenty of eye candy and sound fx, without having to go looking for OXPs first?

Well, here it is!
The zip file you can download contains a 290MB executable and a readme file. I would suggest having a look at the readme before running it, but here are the main points:

It has been created using the Enigma Virtual Box packaging and virtualization application. When run, it decompresses in memory.

  • It is not an installer. It is the v1.89 (revision 938d49e) game executable, completely autonomous. When you run it, Oolite starts up.
  • The game contains a few selected OXPs, already embedded in the game's core Resources folder. The selection is completely personal preference and if you don't like it, well, sorry :-). Check out the included readme for details on what is there.
  • The executable runs in both 32 and 64 bit Windows (Vista SP2 or later).
  • The game executable has been tweaked to start up by default in desktop full screen rather than windowed mode.
  • You cannot remove or update any of the embedded OXPs using the in-game OXP Manager. The OXPs that are included are considered part of Core in this distribution. You can do whatever you want with any other OXP not already included.
  • You cannot use post-processing effect injectors like Reshade on this distribution due to the EVB format of the executable.
  • Your anti-virus may throw a heuristic fit at it because of its format and in-memory decompression activities. If it does, it is a false positive.

It seems to work pretty well for me so far. If you want to play with it, feel free and let me know if there is anything that requires attention. I hope this can be of interest to our Windows users, although it should be considered experimental at this stage. BB thread (2017-20)


Comments on Oolite combat vs Elite combat

  The first thing one needs to do when starting fresh in Oolite is forget the combat play style of the old Elite 8-bit versions. Back in the old days, screen resolutions were much lower as you have correctly mentioned, frames per second were in the single digits for the fastest computers of the time, memory available for AI routines etc was much much lower and so on. This resulted in combat tactics that were fit for purpose for the available spec. An example of this is the fat pixel that represented any ship at large distances. Back then, the standard combat tactic I was using on the Spectrum was to shoot that fat pixel as much as I could before the ship it represented approached to a distance where the switch to proper vector graphics was made. Battles could finish in a few seconds like this before they even had a chance to properly start. And of course, it meant that I kept my ship moving steady forward while doing all this.
The above example will not work in Oolite. Nowadays we have high resolution graphics and better artificial intelligence. There is no fat pixel anymore and ships are drawn as textured meshes regardless of distance, often with shaders running on top of them. So, there is no easy targeting at the start of combat and the AI is using predictive routines to try to judge where it should fire the next shot. Someone engaging in a fight while carrying the mindset of 8-bit computers will see the game over screen very quickly indeed.
On top of this, there is one more detail that I need to bring to everyone's attention: Most of us (and, from what I understand reading your first post, you too) have memories of how Elite used to be when we had a fully equipped ship. I remember Elite being really easy once I had an iron-ass ready. I, just like you, was hunting Thargoids in witchspace for that extra bit of challenge and I still could eliminate hordes of them in one little single ship. That, looking back at it many years after, seems wrong, no? But the question here is, does anyone remember how it was when they were starting? Was it not hard back then? Did you not lose one battle after another? I remember I did, and I remember being frustrated. But the feeling of achievement when I won my first encounter against a pack of three using a pulse laser (even though I had to bring a half-destroyed ship to the station) was so intense that it made all worth it at the end. And the rewarding feeling of adding one more piece of equipment to the ship as I was progressing was enhanced by the fact that I knew that next time I was going to be in combat I would have slightly better odds. And because of this, I wanted to continue playing (you know, that "one more flight and I'm done" thing... ;-))
Chrysopelea mk-i.png
  We are trying to capture this in Oolite. Yes, it is very difficult. It used to be even more difficult in the previous version. We had players coming here to complain about it but, guess what, the very same players who persisted and did not give up told us a few months down the line that the game was perfectly balanced after all and we really did not have to do any changes (but we did, because v1.80 was really, seriously difficult). To be able to capture this, some base design decisions had to be made and they have been with us almost since the beginning.
The philosophy here is two-fold: 1. The player ship is just another ship in the universe, no special treatment is reserved for it (the polar opposite of the 8-bit Elites) and 2. The player must be able to be challenged even at higher ranks, but still be able to survive at start up.
The immediate implication of this is that there are no skill levels. The game will not give you easy opponents in the beginning and harder ones when you are rated Deadly. The universe will always be the same. Bad things may and will happen to the player regardless of rank. Battle against a small group of pirates when armed only with what our Advice For New Commanders document, distributed with the game, refers to as "penlight", should not be easy. Sometimes the Brave Sir Robin tactic may be a really good option and part of the strategy of this game is exactly this kind of decision making, knowing when it's ok to flee and when it is worth facing the opposition. Getting surrounded by a wolfpack of 8 should be barely survivable even for an iron-ass Cobra.
Having said that, I get the impression from your posts that you believe the enemies are unbeatable. They are not. You can win against them. NPCs do not have shields (one of the very few occasions where the player is given an advantage free of charge), only energy banks and those are exactly the same as yours. One of the things we did when we adjusted the balance for 1.82, was a survey amongst players. Part of the data collected was input from a few experienced players who started as brand fresh commanders at Lave when we asked for their help. And their input was that, with the balance changes in 1.82, it was definitely doable. Not easy, mind you, but doable. I expect that fresh players will obviously not find it doable immediately, but I believe that it is just a matter of persistence and developing some skill that was simply not applicable in the 8-bit versions, before they get to the level where they can make it. You already seem to be getting there; remember that ship that run away on injectors after having begged for mercy? You almost had him there and if he used injectors to flee, it was because he had already lost the battle. Without injectors, you would have finished it really soon.
In any case, ships with injectors in the core game are mostly Asps, Kraits or Fer-de-Lances, so it was not exactly an easy-peasy fight you had there to begin with. So you are already progressing, but you seem to be quite unlucky too (bumping on tough opponents, having your Energy Unit being picked as the first equipment to be damaged in combat etc), but I am sure you are getting there.
Some tips have already been given and there are other combat tactics that you can find out as you play the game too. For example, did you know that if you put your ship between the sun and your enemies, the sun glare will blind them and cause them to miss a lot? Also, fly unpredictably. The enemies are programmed to simulate human behaviour and they try to predict where you will go next based on your current heading and maneuvering. Surprise them. If you have one ship in your sights and another starts hitting you, do not be afraid to break lock on your current target and evade. Be on the move at all times. I'm sure you will find other tactics yourself if you don't give up. And yes, get a military laser, it makes life so much easier. And quirium bombs, they are good for cleaning up a mess, provided you can run fast. another_commander (2015)