Hyperspace, also called witchspace, is a dimension through which hyperdrive/witch-space drive equipped ships can travel instantaneously from one star system to the other. There are limits to the maximum distance that can be traversed in one jump.
In the Oolite fanfiction, a hyperspace jump leaves behind a temporary blue hypercloud, which can be used to track the target system, and through which additional ships can jump to the same system, not using their own Quirium fuel.
Entry and exit of hyperspace are indicated by an unpleasant feeling, which experienced hyperspace travellers become used to.
One arrives at a witchpoint beacon at the far end (a variety of buoy).
It is rumoured that Thargoids are able to navigate inside hyperspace.
Legend has it that the results of a misjump can be disastrous, varying from ending up somewhere in the middle of a sun or interstellar space, to travelling through time, or even returning to normal space turned inside out! A forced misjump is the last resort of the hopeless.
History of Discovery
There are at least 3 different schools with views on Oolite in-game History. The Syncretists and the Purists have quite different accounts of how it was discovered (see History for a purist history and GalCop for a syncretist account of how Witchspace was discovered). The Pragmatics don't want to be tied down with a backstory - and just play the game! See Lore for an exposition of the various philosophies.
A witchspace connection consists of a fifth-dimensional pseudocylindrical passage, or intertube, connecting a blue hole created by a witchspace drive to an invisible virtual white hole in the destination system. Fuel expenditure is proportional to the realspace length of the intertube.
The term witchspace refers specifically to the strange, magical and somewhat unlikely visual artefacts encountered while travelling the virtual length of the intertube. This virtual length is at once constant and proportional to the square of the realspace length, which makes perfect sense in five-dimensional bogometrics.
A witchspace malfunction occurs when the metric of the intertube is not perfectly balanced, which can happen due to hardware failure (slightly bent wire, build-ups of dust, or uneven load due to centrifugal force) in the witchspace drive’s field generator coils. This causes an “unravelling” of the field which dumps the traveller somewhere along the realspace path of the intertube; it is more likely to do so in the presence of large quantities of radioactive isotopes, incidentally of the very type used by the thargoids in their unrelated and badly-understood interstellar drives. Unfortunately, the only way to detect an unravelling condition is to enter the blue hole and see whether you end up where you expected to. This explains the importance of regular Maintenance.
Witchdrive fuel is used to create the entire intertube immediately before entering it, rather than for actual travel; for this reason, none is recovered in the case of “falling out” of the intertube Jens Ayton (2007).
Coda to the Theory
The complex mathematics and physics of witchspace intertube generation (which I do not have the time or space to relate here) do not allow for witchspace jumps to arbitrary locations. The target of a jump must be near a sufficiently large mass – such as a star – and must be marked by a large and complex network of equipment arranged quite some distance from said large mass. The witchspace beacon, incidentally, is not part of this equipment, it merely marks the “termination focus” produced by their arrangement.
Ending up in interstellar space is only possible by means of an “unravelled” intertube between two planetary systems Jens Ayton (2007).
Other theories of what Witchspace is
- Witchspace: possible to exit?
- Witchspace Wake
- Explanations Wanted
- Canon question about the Witchdrive.
Hyperspace or Witchspace?
|The confusion about the hyperspace/witchspace terminology comes from the original Acorn version manual and novella. Ian Bell & David Braben used hyperspace as their term of choice in the Manual. Robert Holdstock used witchspace by habit in his novella: it's found in many of his other SF novels, if my memory serves me correctly. Subsequent versions of the game's in-game text and documents have mixed both. It's now reached the point that Mr Braben's later versions of the game mix both terms pretty randomly.|
Whilst some individuals have rigidly stuck with the use of either one term or the other - and some have used one for the tunnel and the other for the region where one is stranded in a misjump - overall the use of the two terms is utterly confused, which will undoubtedly reflect their use amongst the billions of people in the thousands of systems of the 8 galaxies!
Terminological Exactitude is further challenged by the use of the term "Interstellar Space" for the region where one is stranded in a misjump. Admittedly, one can see stars even if they seem to be unreachable. But the appearance of the space seems unlike what one would expect a Generation ship to encounter as it made its way from one star system to another.
- Derelict by Ganelon
SOTL Exploration variant
- SOTL Exploration is an Oolite Scenario oxp - you are genuinely exploring a new galaxy! The witchspace jump is very different, and can easily wreck your ship if you are not careful!
Hyperspace travel is dangerous - especially in a ship as improvised as the SOTL Exploration Shaula-class. When you activate the hyperdrive, an additional instrument display will be projected on to your HUD (see right!).
Above: progress to destination. This starts with you leaving the gravitational influence of your current system, then travelling through hyperspace, then entering your destination system. If you need to drop out mid-jump, this will determine where you end up. Right: current energy reserves. Hyperspace travel is energy-intensive. If you run out of energy mid-jump, your ship will be destroyed as it fails to maintain hyperspatial integrity. You can press 'h' again to abort the jump and drop out away from your destination, which will damage your ship due to the rough exit, but you should at least survive. Centre: jump status. If this is yellow or green the jump is going well. If orange, you are losing energy fast but should have sufficient reserves to finish the jump. If red, you do not have sufficient reserves at the current rate of energy loss to complete the jump (this will start flashing red/black if you have fewer than 5 seconds available) Left, bottom: jump alignment. You need to handle a lot of the jump yourself. Keep the yellow marks aligned with the green ones using your pitch and roll controls - the closer the alignment, the less energy you will need to maintain hyperspatial integrity.
The pattern you need to align to is a property of the particular jump you are making, so with practice you can use less energy. Additionally, the more times you complete a jump the more computer assistance you receive with future jumps on the same route, which reduces the precision needed to maintain energy levels. (This means you need to carry fewer energy banks and can carry more survey equipment instead)
Jumps are non-linear: - time aligning in hyperspace needed to complete the jump is proportional to distance - real time taken is proportional to distance squared - fuel usage is proportional to the square root of the distance
As large masses travel through normal space, they leave ripples behind them in the hyperspace medium, and semi-stable calm points. The larger the mass, the better the calm point. For this reason, a successful jump will place you in the calm point for the system's star.
- How to cross VOIDS in Oolite! (2022) Analysis of the Thargoid presence in Witchspace/Interstellar Space
- Stuck in Interstellar Space (2022)
- Ideally Imperfect OOniverse: Calibrated Hyperspace jumps. BB Thread (2017-8): why do traders/convoys make their way out to the Witchpoint beacon and jump from there?
- Status of shields, energy and laser temp after a jump (2012) - more rooted in the Dark Side than the 2010 debate just beneath.
- Why do temperatures, energy banks & shields not reset in the witchspace tunnel? (2010)
- Captain Hesperus on Witchspace (2009)
- Terminological Exactitude: Hyperspace, Witchspace & Interstellar Space (2021)
- Inconsistent Language - Witchspace or Hyperspace? (2015)
- Inconsistent Language - Witchspace or Hyperspace? (2007)
- Alderson Drive physics (2017) - jumps either way can only be made at the Witchpoint Beacon - this would have severe consequences for misjumps