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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:42 am 
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Of course, if anyone wanted to go for solving those - and other - issues, it's basically all OXPable.
<chortles>

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:48 am 
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A lot of points there, cim. But then again, the game has to evolve to survive. Players change, so the game should adapt. I think.
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...
11) Once a fight is started, it basically must end in the destruction of one side. (Unless you have injectors, and then you can basically leave any time you like)
...
There's often some aggressor in the lot that also has injectors, so it's not always possible to just leave. Leaving with injectors often results 1-on-1, which I find quite nice.
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Of course, if anyone wanted to go for solving those - and other - issues, it's basically all OXPable.
Sure and all sorts of OXPs float around changing this and that, but the original issue was the approachability of the core game for a new player.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:58 am 
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A lot of points there, cim. But then again, the game has to evolve to survive. Players change, so the game should adapt. I think.
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Of course, if anyone wanted to go for solving those - and other - issues, it's basically all OXPable.
Sure and all sorts of OXPs float around changing this and that, but the original issue was the approachability of the core game for a new player.
Indeed - but I would expect attempts at a fix to end up going up a lot of dead ends and failed prototypes before actually finding a solution which worked. My point is that a move to start working on this sort of thing would be much more practical to do as an OXP to show it would work, rather than trying to get consensus based on theories of how it might work in advance for a core game change.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:10 am 
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A lot of points there, cim. But then again, the game has to evolve to survive. Players change, so the game should adapt. I think.
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Of course, if anyone wanted to go for solving those - and other - issues, it's basically all OXPable.
Sure and all sorts of OXPs float around changing this and that, but the original issue was the approachability of the core game for a new player.
Indeed - but I would expect attempts at a fix to end up going up a lot of dead ends and failed prototypes before actually finding a solution which worked. My point is that a move to start working on this sort of thing would be much more practical to do as an OXP to show it would work, rather than trying to get consensus based on theories of how it might work in advance for a core game change.
You have a fair point there, but the problem at hand is very hard to test through OXPs. It's often advised that a new player should not load OXPs as the game is already balanced and even without that advise I would assume that the game is usually tested without OXPs. To properly test the changes from a fresh players perspective would require a batch of fresh players to play the game for the first time with those changes. I'm fairly sure that granting injectors as a starting equipment would be a winner, but that's purely hypothetical of course :mrgreen: .


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:56 am 
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I actually have an idea :idea: .

How about some sort of initial mission? When starting a new game a letter from a relative could be shown setting some random background

"If you're getting this, I've passed away. Take good care of the good old Cobbie."

giving general advice

"Don't even think about shooting anything that can shoot back with that pulse laser."

and an initial mission to fly to Zaonce, to get rid of the puny Pulse Laser, buying Injectors and keeping on trading until beam laser can be bought

"To survive, you must get Injectors as fast as possible. Fill the hold with food, fly to Zaonce, bribe pirates if needed, sell everything and that useless pulse laser. Buy Injectors and keep on trading goods until you can afford a Beam Laser".

"Good luck, you're going to need it!"

With my English skillz it's a no-no. But if someone with some literary skills wants to write an inspirational "welcome to the game" letter, I'm happy to wrap up an OXP to test it.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 11:05 am 
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But if someone with some literary skills wants to write an inspirational "welcome to the game" letter, I'm happy to wrap up an OXP to test it.
Literary skills? <grins> I could probably write something for the alternative way (that only took nineteen ship-days).
Big D could probably rustle up what you need though - and I'll have a ponder.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:32 pm 
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How about some sort of initial mission? When starting a new game a letter from a relative could be shown setting some random background
A letter would be one way of doing it - although essentially it would just be a shorter version of Mr Gimlet, and people would forget much of it as soon as they launched. A better (but more complicated) approach might be to have a final leg of the tutorial, where "an old space-hand" accompanies the player on the first flight and talks you through the procedures in return for a lift to Zaonce (or Leesti: arguably, the Leesti-Diso milk run is a better place for beginners). If possible, the entire first trip could be scripted, with built-in pauses while "what's happening" is explained. And the old hand could even take over and dock the player at the end of the trip, to show them how it's done.

There is a lot of in-game help and advice already available for new players, but it doesn't deal with the core problem: the expectation that the game difficulty will increase slowly, over time, and that the new player can immediately fight weak enemies with their weak ship and weak weapons, before moving on to meet and fight stronger enemies with stronger weapons. They expect kobolds and they find ogres.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:48 pm 
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The way I found the game was through Debian's repository. I did not read anything when I started playing, I just started the game. I was familiar with Elite of course. I did not know that the wiki or forum existing. So I would say that all initial information should be in game. Tutorial is good, but something scripted to get going in game might also be in order. Nothing fancy, just a little something to help the player survive the first few jumps and make a little profit. A simple parcel mission might also work here.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:59 pm 
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The economy is completely whack.
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The trade goods are pretty boring and don't take system danger into account, and there's really only two economy types and one plausible trade good each way
This is very true - and personally, I think the easiest, and best, solution to this is a radical one (and here we move very much toward Cim's "space trading-combat game loosely in the spirit of Elite"): ditch the whole idea of player trading entirely.

Or rather, ditch the idea that the player picks and chooses their cargo, item by item. Seriously. Dump it. Forget the economics of interplanetary trade, forget supply-and-demand: the in-game economy has only one purpose: to allow the player to earn money, to keep their ship flying and to afford more and better stuff.

So: no more list of 17 commodities, no more "Food" covering everything from soy mush to caviar, no more "Textiles" covering burlap to silk. Replace it all with an expanded and upgraded version of the cargo contract market. You're a freighter captain, not a merchant: you don't trade in individual items, you sell space in your cargo hold and your ability to get someone else's goods to where they need to be, on time and in one piece. There would be lots of contracts available: some big ones, and lots of small ones of just a few TCs each. Some would be long-range but most would be short-range, just a jump or two; and some would be really time-specific, but most would be open-ended or at least generously non-urgent.

How would it work? The player would pay a deposit on the cargo to accept the contract, and receive payment on delivery, making a profit on the deal. The size of the payment would depend on 1) the value of the cargo (a more valuable cargo would require a higher deposit, of course); 2) the status of the destination system (more danger = higher shipping fees); 3) the length of the run (longer run = higher fees); and 4) the urgency of the delivery (more urgent = higher fees). Starting players would pay a small deposit to purchase contracts to ship cheap, non-urgent stuff to close, safe systems. Experienced players, with well-equipped ships and high reputations, would pay large deposits to take valuable, screamingly urgent cargoes to dangerous locations half-way across the galaxy. Purchasing contracts (the high-end ones, especially) could be made a bit more interesting than just simply clicking "Accept", if the player was able to pitch an offer: ask for a higher fee, in return for a higher deposit - or pitch a lower price in order to get a job and help build a reputation.

What about salvage? Salvage is salvage, and the player can receive an insurance bounty for turning it in (or sell it, in shadier locations, no questions asked). Goods with no provenance ("fallen off the back of an Anaconda") will make you money, but not as much money as successfully delivering a bonded cargo to its intended customer. Then again, you don't have to put up any deposit to get it …

How about failure to deliver - either because of lateness, or through destruction of cargo? Late and partial deliveries would be permitted, with corresponding reductions in fees (and reputation). Failure - even total failure - would be an option. You lose your deposit, and your reputation takes a hit: it's not good, but it wouldn't wipe you out (unless you make a habit of it). And of course failure to deliver 5 TCs of sprocket springs to the next system over would not be nearly such a big deal as failure to deliver 30 TCs of pure Tibediedian Arma brandy to Tionisla.

Busy hub systems would have lots of contracts on offer - and lots of ships to take them. Plenty of work, but most of it would be low-paid. End-of-the-line systems would have few contracts, but they would pay a premium, because there wouldn't be so many ships to do the work.

The sorts of cargoes on offer could be vastly more interesting: you're not hauling "Food", you're hauling Razaar pickles, or Teaatis corn chips, or Legees golden spice pods, or anything from a whole mass of fluff cooked up in-game from a random word list. And perhaps there could be ways for the player - especially the player who's scooping most of their cargoes - to know which are more valuable: items from certain planets could be better than others (especially if they're named in the F7 screen), and certain classes of random word could signify "cheap" or "expensive". This could be something the player learns over time, not least from seeing what contracts are on offer for what sort of deposit: an acquired skill. A "spice" might always be more valuable than a "chip"; a "brandy" more valuable than an "ale"; and so on.

With this, all the questions about the economy would disappear: it would all be assumed to exist, and make sense, somewhere beyond the scope of the game. Better, it would mean that - without having to buy a bulk freighter - the range of profits available to the player could be greatly extended: beginners would get cheap, low-risk contracts, with small profits; veterans could take on high-end, high-risk contracts, with big profits. This would allow the maintenance costs for expensive, and expensively equipped, ships to be greatly enlarged: top-dollar ships would need top-dollar contracts to keep them going, and the game wouldn't plateau in the same way that it does at present, where a fully equipped ship can earn very large sums of money for little further outlay.

This is, of course, a complete departure from the original. But I think it's a good, and potentially workable, solution to a large number of issues not just of Oolite but of the genre as a whole: stop selling goods, and start selling transportation.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:00 pm 
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I actually have an idea :idea: .

How about some sort of initial mission? When starting a new game a letter from a relative could be shown setting some random background
Like your start choices oxp (which I'm a fan of), I think such things work best with a few options.

One start possibility that interests me is a small but significant tweak on the original:
Quote:
Hello, I'm here to collect my new Cobra MkIII.
Ah yes, Jameson is it? This way please sir...
I'm afraid there has been something of an... issue with your order.
Issue? What sort of an issue?
With the delivery.
You mean it isn't here?
Not exactly sir, no.
Where the hell is it then?
Inines.
...
It is in the same sector, sir.
AT THE OTHER }@%ING END OF IT!... When will it be arriving?
I'm glad you asked me that sir, it relates rather strongly to the issue I mentioned earlier...
So you'd get your lovely Mk III 'start' but you have to fetch it yourself from the opposite corner of the galactic map. The delivery is too costly/problematic for it to be delivered to Lave so the company have provided you with a new Adder fitted with ECM and fuel injectors (chance against missiles and faster ships). Should you make it, you would have to hand over the Adder but get your new shiny Mk III and any profits that you might have made along the way. Even if the Adder were also fitted with an energy unit it would hardly be an upgrade but the new player would have a realistic chance of fleeing from trouble, some protection against missiles and a reason to understand the variety of economies and governments with some urgency...
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ditch the whole idea of player trading entirely.

Or rather, ditch the idea that the player picks and chooses their cargo, item by item. Seriously. Dump it. Forget the economics of interplanetary trade, forget supply-and-demand: the in-game economy has only one purpose: to allow the player to earn money, to keep their ship flying and to afford more and better stuff.
Do-able but the main issue with the trading is that it's designed around a Mk III both in terms of quantity and profit margins. In an Adder, trading progress is very slow wheras in an Anaconda there isn't enough to buy at just one station. Personally, I rather like the generic commodity list as it remains relevant across systems with very different inhabitants and (presumably) cultures. Even the elite manual made trading sound as though there were better prices to be had at the more dangerous systems. My ship variation oxp (WIP) makes trading a little more interesting based on sytem inhabitants. Astrobe's point about the game becoming easier rings true here.

Oolite has an open 'storyline' which makes it very acommodating in terms of play style but at the same time it really cries out for 'missions' to make it less mundane. Contracts provide a little of this and random hits showed another way. I think what I'd really like to do is not only make my own story through play but also see it reflected in the game; but how to do it...

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:59 pm 
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The way I found the game was through Debian's repository. I did not read anything when I started playing, I just started the game. I was familiar with Elite of course. I did not know that the wiki or forum existing. So I would say that all initial information should be in game. Tutorial is good, but something scripted to get going in game might also be in order. Nothing fancy, just a little something to help the player survive the first few jumps and make a little profit. A simple parcel mission might also work here.
Here’s a quick attempt (n.b. I don’t think you can sell the Pulse laser any more: you can swap it around, but it’s not worth any cash). I've added in a paragraph at the end to offer a small parcel delivery.
Quote:
Well, here it is: a Cobra Mark III starship of your very own, and 100 credits to the good. Don’t say I don’t keep my promises. And now the bad news: this ship is weak, and vulnerable, and most anyone could cut you open to find out what’s inside. You need to trick her up, fast, and 100 credits won’t do. Before you even think about getting in a shooting match, you’ll need to fit her with Witchdrive Fuel Injectors and a Beam laser. In that order: with a cherry ship like yours, it’s more important to be able to run away than it is to fight back.

So you need money, and you need it quick. You need to find something that you can afford, that’s produced here on Lave, and take it where you can sell it at a profit. Lave’s an Agricultural planet, so Food, Textiles, Liquor and Wines are all cheap. Furs, too, though not so much, here, and they own’t bring you much profit on this run. Get yourself some booze, if you feel lucky, or just pack in as much Food as you can and go for the bulk. If it were me, I’d plot a course to Zaonce: they’ll give you the best prices, and Corporate worlds have regular police patrols, so you should be safe. Ish. Nowhere’s really “safe” these days. Still, if you do meet trouble, there’s one thing you can do: give them what they ask for. Swallow your pride, drop a few canisters, and get the hell away.

Sell what you got at Zaonce, then look to take on what they’re selling - Machinery, Computers and Luxuries are Industrial staples - and ship them on to an Agricultural world. Isinor’s a better bet than Lave: they’re poorer, and the prices are better, and an inward trip to Lave is none too safe. If you can afford it, keep a few canisters of cheap stuff aside: they might buy you safe passage, until you can fight back. Work the margins, stay alert, and keep away from trouble if you can. If you live long enough, you’ll earn enough to improve your survival chances further. I’d wish you luck, but trust me: wishes and luck won’t be enough.

One final thing: if you do go to Zaonce, take this package for me. It’ll be collected at the other end, and you’ll get a few credits for your trouble. You can look for other jobs like this, but fair warning: some jobs might attract unwelcome attention.
A reduced version (200 words):
Quote:
Well, here it is: a Cobra III, and 100 credits. But before you even think about combat, you’ll need to fit her with Witchdrive Fuel Injectors and a Beam laser. In that order: right now, running away is more important than fighting back.

So you need money, quick. Buy something that’s cheap here, and sell it at a profit. Lave’s Agricultural, so Food, Textiles, Liquor and Wines … get yourself some booze, if you feel lucky, or just pack in lots of Food. Zaonce will give you the best prices on those, and Corporate worlds are safe. Ish. If you do meet trouble, give them what they ask for. Drop a few canisters, and run.

At Zaonce, buy what they’re selling - Machinery, Computers and Luxuries - and ship them to an Agricultural world. Isinor, rather than Lave: an inward trip to Lave is none too safe. If you can afford it, keep some cheap stuff aside, to buy you safe passage if you have to.

If you do go to Zaonce, take this package: you’ll get a few credits for your trouble. You can look for other jobs like this, but fair warning: some jobs might attract unwelcome attention.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:06 pm 
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Great, I'll see what can be done with it.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:07 pm 
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I don’t think you can sell the Pulse laser any more...
You certainly can - 400Cr (Oolite 1.84).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:33 pm 
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I would say regarding Oolite's balance and general playability that there are three general strands of thought for what sort of game Oolite should be:
- as faithful a reimplementation as possible of the original Elites (inc Elite+) on modern hardware
- a modern reimplementation of Elite with its own extensions and feel
- a space trading-combat game loosely in the spirit of Elite

Generally I think in practice it fits somewhere between the 1st and the 2nd, and given what the project is moves towards the 3rd would be immensely controversial.
The first view is just a dead end. Sounds entirely resistant to change. If you want a purely nostalgic experience, there are always emulators.

Equally moving towards the 3rd would make the game much more bland to me, without the history of the original game to build upon.

Is there a 'recommended modpack' to add to the base game that improves these issues? If so I failed to spot it...
Quote:
2) The trade goods are pretty boring and don't take system danger into account, and there's really only two economy types and one plausible trade good each way
+ many other interrelated issues.
Quote:
Or rather, ditch the idea that the player picks and chooses their cargo, item by item. Seriously. Dump it. Forget the economics of interplanetary trade, forget supply-and-demand: the in-game economy has only one purpose: to allow the player to earn money, to keep their ship flying and to afford more and better stuff.
I wouldn't throw out the simple trade system from the original game without at least trying to fix it first.
Quote:
In an Adder, trading progress is very slow
Adder was always an oversized system shuttle. Being able to witch jump just means it is also a scout ship. Like a large sidewinder. Neither were implied to be capable of trading I think.
Quote:
Even the elite manual made trading sound as though there were better prices to be had at the more dangerous systems. My ship variation oxp (WIP) makes trading a little more interesting based on sytem inhabitants. Astrobe's point about the game becoming easier rings true here.
This is exactly the point I would make to anyone complaining this is going too far away from the original game.

Such an improvement would be fully supported by the original lore of the game.
Quote:
Agricultural planets invariably have excess produce at reasonable prices, and food sells well at industrialised, middle- to high-technology worlds. Raw materials, and ores, will sell well to middle-tech worlds, which are usually able to refine them. and the refined product can fetch excellent prices at worlds of very high tech status.

The rules are complex, and anarchy and piracy has its effect on causing the rules to change.

In trading with a planet, consider its economic profile:

Agricultural worlds need specialist food and raw materials, but mostly basic machinery and spare parts. If they are rich, they need luxuries and high tech industrial machines. They produce food in quantity, raw materials and specialised 'organic' items, like some textiles.

Industrial worlds need agriculturual produce; raw materials (for refining); resource exploitation machiner; (if rich) high tech goods. They produce basic items of need for civilised worlds: beds, seals and gaskets, power storage units, basic weapons, mass produced fertiliser, mass produced medicines etc.

Think about a planet's needs.

Think what might make the society function.

Don't trade expensive trivia to a hungry world.

On governments:
Quote:
(Concerning Dictatorships):

Lave is an agricultural world, and Enzaer an industrial planet, but a similar principle operates on both surfaces. There are two trading standards, that of the people and that of the Aristocracy. Standards of living are artificially generated, a veneer of progress, and luxury goods, machinery and textiles sell well - usually. The great demand, however, is for basic commodities, especially foodstuffs, clothing and raw materials. These will sell well when the voice of the People has been raised in protest.

(Concerning Anarchy planets):

Anarchic worlds will trade readily in narcotics, slaves, firearms and exotica, and the price will be good... if you get a price at all.

...

These worlds pay heavily for goods they cannot produce themselves, because they know that traders avoid them. Their own products need specialised, illegal outlets: weaponry, narcotics, eavesdropping devices... if it's covert, then anarchic worlds are producing it. Trade in these items and you will get rich quick, or dead quick, or at least become a 'Fugitive'.
Always felt that the game was intended to have a much more subtle trading game than what it had. Perhaps due to time or memory contraints it was cut, but reading the manual heavily implies that it was not intended to be just a 2 system type galaxy, and both economy type, wealth, government type, and tech level would all affect different commodities to different degrees.

In such a system, trading commodity X from system A to system B might make good money. But equally it might be that system B has no cheap option to sell back to system A, encouraging the player to look for a new trading path time and again as he explores the map....

But expecting so much back when 'gameplay balance' was likely not even understood is perhaps a bit much? :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:36 pm 
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ditch the whole idea of player trading entirely.
Do-able but the main issue with the trading is that it's designed around a Mk III both in terms of quantity and profit margins. In an Adder, trading progress is very slow wheras in an Anaconda there isn't enough to buy at just one station.
This can be smoothed out, too, with a shift to cargo contracts. Each contract is essentially one item: a Cobra III with a cargo bay extension could maybe find two small one-jump contracts, from one moderately busy system to a neighbouring system: the commander would have to look to take on a few two- or three-jump contracts to fill the hold, and hope to pick up more contracts to fill the gaps left by successful deliveries. An Adder pilot could probably subsist on just short-range, single-jump trips. The total profit would be lower for an Adder pilot but it would be much easier to use the cargo bay efficiently, without leaving empty spaces in the hold, and the Adder pilot wouldn't have to tie up so much money in deposits.

The Anaconda is, as constituted, somewhat broken anyway … but if its cargo capacity was cut to e.g. 250, then it could be viable. Larger ships would have to juggle long- and short-range contracts, to make sure they're flying without leaving too many empty spaces (and also, without being so full they can't pick up a really juicy contract). Running costs - docking fees, for example, based on cargo capacity - would help keep things balanced between large and small. And maximum station quantities cease to matter in any case, if we move away from trading in stock commodities.
Quote:
I rather like the generic commodity list as it remains relevant across systems with very different inhabitants and (presumably) cultures.
That's what I don't like about it: it assumes that "Food" is the same wherever you go. Kæstur hákarl might command high prices in Reykjavik, for example, but not so much in Tel Aviv (or indeed anywhere outside of Iceland, but you get the point! :)).

This is, I stress, a major departure from the current game: Oolite II rather than Oolite 2.0.

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