The installer from dotemu will be automatically updated to version 2.04, the latest official build of the game. However, one of the game’s designers, as well as several fans, continued to update the already very stable game for years afterwards. Consequently, I will be playing with the following unofficial updates installed.
Due to its age and obscurity, it’s very difficult to link to sources for these mods (I would be happy to host them myself, but that’s not possible at the moment. I will do so in future if I’m able and permitted to), however this thread provided by the good people at Captain Zedo’s Hardwar Forum should provide most of them, as it did for me.
UIM 6.0 (“Upgrade Ian Martin” – the aforementioned developer): adds some more video options to the game, improving its appearance (and allowing fraps to capture video instead of crashing the game, which came as a massive relief after I spent hours trying a dozen of fraps’s totally useless competitors). It also fixed many bugs and some stability issues, mainly online.
Hardwar Enhanced: two fans of the game, Max and Smurph, made some alterations of their own, notably fixing AI respawning and docking, and increasing the effect of the dynamic economy. They also improve the readouts of the advanced software, allowing for slightly more tactical play. Both their versions can be run concurrently.
Hardwar-E-Opt: can disable any of the features added by the packs above. On the advice of the Captain Zedo forumites, I have disabled the economy tweaks, as these cause prices of everything to crash, which is probably kind of fun, but would make this far too easy.
Hardnerve: quick and simple, this goes in your hardwar directory. It disables the constant buzzing sound when you’re docked in a hangar, which can grate on one’s nerves after a while. The general machinery sound effects in hangars remain, preserving their atmosphere.
I’ve also applied Jimmy’s fixes, on the firm advice of Zedo & co. I’m unsure precisely what these do, but am assured that they fix some serious problems in Hardwar Enhanced. A direct link is here.
These mods have significant effects on Hardwar, but they’re nowhere near as drastic as the ones I use for Fallout 3. The base single player game is much the same, so you won’t be too left out if you don’t fancy mucking about with mods.
I’m far from an expert, but if you have questions about the above mods, feel free to ask.