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.
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!)
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.)
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.