X Rebirth [official site] is not what we wanted next from the space trade-o-explore-a-zapzap sim series, and not really what developers Egosoft wanted either. They've improved it with patches, but alongside the launch of a new patch they've said some things can't be changed - and will be tackled in a not-quite-announced future X game.
They don't have too much to say about this semi-hypothetical game yet, but one idea they're working on is quite concrete - now in version 3.60 of X Rebirth, you can turn try a more direct form of spaceship control.
I'll get to that later. First, the distant future! "At some point there will be a new game because we want to improve a lot of things that we unfortunately cannot improve using a DLC or update," Egosoft say. "These are things that would cause massive changes to balancing or completely change the structure of the economy." They continue:
"At the very top of our list is the biggest and most popular wish of X3 fans: The ability to actively fly all ships yourself and also actively command from the bridges of capital ships. Additionally, we are working on massive changes to the structure of the universe and, with that, much improved maps and entirely new UI systems for commanding groups of ships through lists of orders to be executed in the future."
They say they're "working exactly as we did in the X3 times: In parallel working on a new project and improvements to the games already released." They're planning to keep on keeping on with Rebirth, X3, and maybe some new DLC too in the meantime.
They're already poking around at potential new features by giving X Rebirth the option to turn off flight assist, a handy system which makes ships control more like conventional earth vehicles affected by friction. With flight assist off, you're governed purely by physics, letting you e.g. turn around while still moving forwards to strafe an enemy. Turning it off also means you can't set absolute speeds and don't automatically turn to face large objects, meaning it offers more finesse but may cause terrible docking accidents.
Have a look at this in action:
That's in X Rebirth as of Wednesday's patch 3.60. Egosoft have also launched beta versions of the game for Mac and Linux.