Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mode

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mode

Post by cim » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:39 am

Here's the first of five planned posts on proposals for changes to future Oolite versions. The others will follow as I get round to them.

Two important notes before I start on the details:
  • This is not a statement that 1.78 is close to release. I've just been promising to share these proposals for ages and finally got round to cleaning them up. You're probably as tired of the vague hints I've been giving about their content as I am.
  • These are just the major areas I personally plan to work on for 1.79/1.80. It's not a commitment that they'll actually happen for that release, it's not any statement in any direction about what the other devs intend to do for that release, and it doesn't exclude work on other minor things by me for that release. They're just big pieces of work where I want to find out what the community thinks before spending time coding them, to make sure I haven't missed anything important.
So, with that out of the way, and starting with the simplest one to describe, the first proposal is:
Remove 'Strict Mode' and all related code from the game.
(The 'Energy Bomb' equipment would still be re-addable by OXP and does not count as "related code" in this context!)

Problem
Strict Mode is not very strict - there are noticeable and often substantial differences from any version of Elite in terms of ship AI and behaviour, witchspace physics, weapon power, ship specs, legal system, and so on.

It also creates a maintenance workload. Every new feature added to the game should be considered to see if it needs exempting from Strict Mode, and if so, extra code paths need adding to do this. In practice, we don't actually do this much, so the current Strict Mode has some oddities and bugs as a result. (For example, maintenance: as we all know the maintenance overhaul is not purchasable in Strict Mode. That does not mean that your ship does not suffer wear and tear and need maintaining. It just means you can't do anything about it.)

Proposal
The current effects of Strict Mode can be duplicated (more-or-less) by OXP. Therefore, release an OXP which implements the 1.78-style of Strict Mode, and remove the actual mode from the code.

As an bonus, Strict Mode players can then include their favourite shipset and planet texture set (and indeed any other purely decorative OXPs).

Alternatively, Strict Mode players can stick with 1.78 indefinitely for those games - there's nothing really useful future versions would do anyway.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Cody » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:54 am

Sounds like a very sensible proposal to me, cim. I doubt that many players use strict mode anyway. <awaits howls of protest>
I do use it very occasionly, but only to test something without OXPs (and that can easily be done another way).
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Svengali » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:39 pm

Yep - removing strict mode sounds good for me.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Smivs » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:40 pm

I too wonder how many players actually use Strict Mode. Perhaps we need a poll :wink:
If it is effectively redundant, and its removal would make life much easier the option should be considered.
The game is developing and evolving at quite a rapid pace currently, and I personally have been thinking more and more recently that perhaps we are getting close to a time when it really does need to move away from some of the Elite heritage. This represents a big change of opinion on my part, but I now feel that being so anchored in the past is going to present more problems in the future, particularly in terms of what the game could become if it was a bit more free to be itself rather than trying to be something that was.
We all know the key features that make Oolite what it is - the open-ended gameplay, the general 'model' of trading/combat, the ability to do whatever you want in the game (and the way the game sometimes plays with you as much as you play with it) and the non-Newtonian Oo-physics. These must be preserved, and also changes should continue to be measured in terms of gameplay, so 'cheats' like laser boosters should never be considered.
I'm not suggesting resurrecting Oolite 2, but a debate about where the game should be going could be beneficial. I am NOT suggesting another proposal-fest like we had a while ago though. That was turning into a free-for-all and is probably the thing that killed-off Oolite 2 in the end. But I do wonder if a measured debate about ways the game could continue to evolve along its own path while still tipping a nod to its Elite heritage might be appropriate at this time.
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Commander McLane » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:52 pm

A heads-up from me as well.

As you all probably know, the Elite legacy is very important for me, and I think that Oolite should always be rooted in Elite. Therefore I've always valued and loved the idea of strict mode—that essentially Oolite is Elite, and can be played just like Elite (with the known caveats). However, having said that, I also have to confess that I've never actually played in strict mode. Perhaps tried it once in order to see how it looks, but never actually done anything with it. So, for me, strict mode has always been a mental or psychological thing rather than an actual part of the game: Sort of a grateful nod to Elite, built into the most basic level of the game, the options menu.

And while I'm holding this nod in high regard as a very noble gesture, it should not become a liability for the future development of Oolite. The gesture should stay, but it can take on another form. It doesn't need to be in the form of a difficult-to-maintain game mode (which I'm not using anyway).

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by JazHaz » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:58 pm

Just created a poll, here.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by CommRLock78 » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:44 pm

IIRC, Captain Solo said he plays only strict mode, so I'm sure there are others. Probably a bad idea I'd say, since some die-hards may wish to play the game in strict mode.
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Cody » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:13 pm

CommRLock78 wrote:IIRC, Captain Solo said he plays only strict mode...
I'd be very surprised, seeing as how the old codger produces his own OXPs.
CommRLock78 wrote:Probably a bad idea I'd say, since some die-hards may wish to play the game in strict mode.
Which, as cim states, can be duplicated by an OXP:
cim wrote:The current effects of Strict Mode can be duplicated (more-or-less) by OXP. Therefore, release an OXP which implements the 1.78-style of Strict Mode
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Disembodied » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:18 pm

A Strict Mode OXP makes vastly more sense, I think. Any real retro-enthusiast can download an emulator and play the original.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by cim » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:00 pm

Disembodied wrote:A Strict Mode OXP makes vastly more sense, I think. Any real retro-enthusiast can download an emulator and play the original.
Here's the current state of the OXP, by the way. There are still some differences between it and Strict Mode, and I might need to add the occasional bit of functionality to clean some of them up, but they're mostly fairly minor.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by maik » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:07 pm

Good suggestion. Never used it.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Thargoid » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:10 pm

It maybe could make sense to have the OXP "tick-box" install in a similar way that debug OXP does. But default not selected in-game, but maybe have a similar menu selection line as now which greys out if the OXP isn't installed. That way from a user view point aside from ticking (or not, I'd make it unticked by default) there'd be very little difference to what we have now, at least in setting it up to run in strict mode.

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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by aegidian » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:31 pm

A 'strict mode OXP' does not solve the development problem of determining if a piece of code should check for 'strict mode', and as such would have to be updated for each feature. Such a suggestion is essentially 'lets fork the code here, and let some other poor soul maintain strict mode for us'. I don't think the idea has any legs.

Now, I'm a traditionalist, and I would prefer to keep some way of playing old-school Elite within Oolite's core features. That said, old-school Elite varied from implementation to implementation (contrast Atari ST Elite with Commodore 64 Elite and Electron Elite and you'll find a wealth of differences) so Oolite having different features doesn't exempt it from being old-school particularly.

I also have to add the mea culpa that I added features to Oolite's main code, that, if I were implementing them for Oolite now, I would add as an OXP (ECM hardened missiles and fuel injectors, for example) so that the base code remained closer to 'core Elite' anyway. But I was lazy and didn't, sorry.


So... and it kills a little bit of me to say it... forget strict mode, and please forget trying to maintain a 'strict mode OXP'.

Strict mode should be replaced with an All-OXPs-Off option, perhaps maintained within the saved game as 'strict'.
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Ranthe » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:40 pm

aegidian wrote:So... and it kills a little bit of me to say it... forget strict mode, and please forget trying to maintain a 'strict mode OXP'.

Strict mode should be replaced with an All-OXPs-Off option, perhaps maintained within the saved game as 'strict'.
Sounds reasonable to me.
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Re: Proposals for Oolite 1.79/1.80, 1 of 5: Remove Strict Mo

Post by Diziet Sma » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:43 pm

Gets a green light from me.. I've never used strict mode, and from the poll results to date, neither does anyone else.

For me, it's much as Commander McLane put it.. the simple fact that it was possible to play "original" style Elite was largely a psychological nod to the past.. no less important for that, but it ought not to impede the growth of Oolite.
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