Oolite is a 3D Space trading and combat simulator in the spirit of Elite. It is, as the name suggests, Object Oriented [E]lite, written in Objective-C. Among Oolite's several similarities to its inspirational source, the gaming experience is enhanced by the context set in Elite's original manual, and the accompanying novella, The Dark Wheel. Licensed under GNU GPL version 2 for the source code and CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 license for other resources (pictures, music, textures, models), Oolite is free software.
By September 2005, Mac Oolite had reached v1.52, and a Linux port was released, closely following the Mac OS X developments since.
In March 2006, the Windows GNUstep port was released. Ports are also available for SGI IRIX and FreeBSD on Intel architectures. Most ports include the same functionality except for the Mac OS X version which includes additional support of native Mac OS X features (as integration with iTunes, Spotlight and Growl support)
In October 2006, after releasing the stable 1.65 version, Williams announced he would stop developing Oolite after implementing updated OpenGL shader functionality. However, the project stalled.
Like Elite, Oolite is a first-person, open-ended, single-player space trading and combat simulator. The player is the pilot of a spacecraft, capable of interstellar travel to other nearby planetary systems using wormholes generated by the ship's engines. Each system contains only one inhabited planet, with an orbiting space station; players choose the destination system by the name of its planet. Although players can create outgoing wormholes almost anywhere within a system, assuming their engines have sufficient fuel to do so, ships always enter a new system at a considerable distance from the target planet. The player must then pilot their ship from the entry point, through "normal" space, to the station. During this stage of the journey the player can encounter other ships, and combat can occur. Oolite spaceships' principal armaments are lasers and missiles. Most combats are dogfights and the ships exhibit non-Newtonian flight characteristics, being immune from the effects of inertia and gravity.
Goals and objectives
There is no set goal or objective in the game. Money and Elite rating are the only built-in forms of "score" in Oolite.
Players can earn money by buying goods in one star system and transporting them to another to sell at a profit. Money can also be earned by destroying pirate ships and collecting bounty. Players can become pirates themselves, attacking merchantmen and other ships. Although no bounty is awarded for destroying non-pirate ships, when a ship is destroyed, some of its cargo can survive the explosion. If the player's ship is equipped with a scoop, this cargo can be salvaged for later resale. It is also possible, with the right equipment, to mine asteroids for ores and other materials. Players can also elect to carry paying passengers or special cargos to specified destinations. Money earned or otherwise acquired can be spent on fuel for the wormhole engines (known as "Witchdrives"), ship maintenance and new equipment. The player can also seek to trade in his or her ship for other models with different characteristics and capabilities.
Each ship the player destroys, of any type or class, adds to the player's Elite rating, a ranking based on the number of kills made. This rating begins at "harmless" (no kills), then "mostly harmless", and culminates with the "deadly" then "elite" rankings.
Missions and modifications
There are a small number of built-in missions in the game, inherited from Elite, where the player is given specific tasks to perform. It is not necessary to complete or even begin any of these missions to play the game, however.
Numerous modifications for Oolite have expanded the gameplay by adding in new missions, new equipment, new ships, new trading locations and new open-ended career opportunities such as courier or hitman.
Since the game structure is intended to be ‘open–hooded’, objects and events that take place in Oolite are easily modified without need of programming skills. Only a few simple tools are needed to create an OXP (Oolite eXpansion Pack). These game additions, either self-made or downloaded, are freely placed in the game's AddOns folder, allowing the player to shape the plot and population of the game universe.
Over Oolite's first two years, many from the Oolite community were inspired by the game's coherent modding opportunities, resulting in a fairly large pool of OXPs. Often The Dark Wheel and 80's Elite fandom are of obvious influences, although elements from alternate space operas have also been shared. A pack may simply offer more ships or stations, or contain scripted interactive missions. As adding planetary bodies, minigames, HUDs, weapons and sounds are among several possibilities, testing the potential limitations of the OXP is still at an early stage.
Critical reception and reviews
Oolite was given four stars and the Macworld Editors' Choice Award in 2007: "Oolite (Object Oriented Elite) is as addictive and compelling today as Elite was in 1984 ... The core program is fully extensible with new ships, missions and planets – and the universe you explore in Oolite is completely open ended. This game’s a blast from the past that’s been rebuilt to last. Grab it now."
On July 24 2009, TechRadar.com listed Oolite as one of the 10 best free PC games you should play today: "Oolite takes the exact same, brilliantly compulsive gameplay [as Elite] and makes it slicker, faster and better looking – for free. If the core package isn't thrilling enough, there are expansion packs available, too."
Freewaregenius.com reviewed Oolite in October 2009, calling it "a brilliant remake of Elite ... If you’re starving for a good space simulator, Oolite will satisfy. With a more rewarding trade system than it’s contemporaries, fast paced combat, and a healthy dose of retro appeal, this is worth checking out."
NAG Online reviewed Oolite in September 2010, giving it a score of 85%: "A true classic reincarnated and reimagined: a must-play for space-sim fans."
A few works of fiction have been placed in the Oolite universe.
- ↑ Oolite website. Retrieved on 2008-08-06
- ↑ Oolite Review. Mac Game Center. Retrieved on 2007-10-11
- ↑ Linux Format (January 2006). 3D Space Game Oolite. Linux Format. http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=5#75. faximile
- ↑ Wolfwood (2006-04-12). Oolite Review. Hooked Gamers. Retrieved on 2008-08-06
- ↑ Editor's Choice. Macworld (2007-01-08). Retrieved on 2008-08-06
- ↑ 10 best free PC games you should play today. TechRadar.com (2009-07-24). Retrieved on 2010-01-05
- ↑ Oolite: a brilliant remake of Elite, the classic game of space trade and exploration. Freewaregenius.com (2009-10-29). Retrieved on 2010-01-05
- ↑ Review: Oolite - NAG Online. NAG Online (2010-09-01). Retrieved on 2010-09-01