Outpost

aka: Outpost: Build Mankind's Future in Space
Moby ID: 1613
Macintosh Specs
Included in See Also

Description official descriptions

In the first part of the 21st century, scientists discovered a huge asteroid named Vulcan's Hammer headed straight for Earth. A single corporation decided the only way for survival was to colonize other worlds. One ship was launched and as it sat in orbit around Jupiter, Earth was no more. Now it is your task to seek out a new planet and repopulate it with human life. The game is set in an isometric third person perspective, like that of SimCity, in which you must re-colonize the planet while dealing with the intricacies of day-to-day life.

Spellings

  • 生存 - Simplified Chinese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Videos

See any errors or missing info for this game?

You can submit a correction, contribute trivia, add to a game group, add a related site or alternate title.

Credits (Windows 3.x version)

23 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 71% (based on 16 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.4 out of 5 (based on 35 ratings with 4 reviews)

Great idea, unfinished game.

The Good
Outpost provides a great deal of realism when it comes down to what it would be like to build and develop a colony on an alien world.

The Bad
The multitude of broken and missing features.

The Bottom Line
OUTPOST is another great game that train-wrecked with all of history's other bad games. Not because the design was lacking. Not because the idea was bad. Because the game was released way too soon. It's an obvious fact that the manual for OUTPOST was written before the game was even finished so, naturally, it described many aspects of the game that didn't exist in the first release (e.g. roads, monorails, etc.). There were patches released that fixed all of these but, as is always the case, they were too late. The reviews were in, the towels were thrown and OUTPOST was forever marked as 'bad'.

But there are many things that made the game enjoyable. First, it was a great challenge for challenge seekers. You could never build your colony too fast or you would very quickly run out of resources leaving your colonists with nothing to operate their facilities.

There was the 'city building' simulation, great for the SimCity fans.

And there was the turn-based strategy component like Civilization.

OUTPOST was and still is a classic game in my mind. Both a classic catastrophe and a revolutionary game. As I am still a fan, I have recently uncovered a project to revive OUTPOST and bring it to the level that it should have been. Visit the Links section for more information.

Windows 3.x · by Leeor Dicker (7) · 2005

Horrifying, this game shouldn't have been allowed to be released

The Good
You know, when I first saw this game I really wanted it to work out. It was a SimCity type of building game - which I liked - set in a sci-fi world during man's first steps into the universe - which I liked. Better yet it boasted realistic resource management, power, resources, etc., which provided physical limits to your expansion in addition to money. Let's call it SciCity.

The Bad
Everything.

No really, everything about this game is bad. In fact, I still have no idea how to play it.

The game starts with you in the new spaceship, looking at a star map. Ostensibly the purpose of this is to select a star to travel to in an attempt to find a good planet for your colony. Of course our ability to see planets is poorly developed, so you don't actually see if there are good planets there, but instead just the probability that there is a good planet there. That's fine with me I suppose, but in a painful example of design peeking out from behind the covers, the ones with higher probabilities are, of course, farther away and thus harder to get to.

This doesn't sound too bad though, right? Well it is. Just getting to this spot took lots of menu gymnastics and several slowwwwly loading movies. But what's really annoying is that I don't think the map actually does anything at all. I never arrived at a star without a planet, and they all looked pretty much identical. In fact I think there is only one planet, that would save some coding right? I think the whole map is a hoax, but it's too painful to actually test this theory.

Now you choose what to take along with you, given the limited space and weight available on the spacecraft. More people? More auto-factories? A weather sat? Hmmm, which is better? Good question, the manual certainly doesn't seem to suggest an answer. And just like the starmap, once again I couldn't find any difference in the outcome based on what I took with me, because the outcome was always the same regardless (see below).

Well now you're ready to go. You're treated to some movies of the ship heading off into space. And then arriving over your chosen planet. And then landing on it. Well sort of. The author decided to turn this into a "game" at this point, and the disaster it is illustrates the whole game perfectly. What happens is that a menu appears with the various things you have to do to land - drop any sats, land factories, etc. So you click on one and then hit OK, and watch it happen. And then the next. And the next. As Underdogs put it:

You must click the buttons from the top to the bottom, then press "OK". Well, that's it. That's what passed for "fun" in Outpost. I just can't imagine someone at Sierra thinking that pressing 8 buttons from top to bottom somehow added to the gameplay - "Doh, I forgot to press the first button! This game rocks!"

Heh.

Well now the stuff is down there on the surface, and at last the game actually starts. The screen changes to a 3D isomorphic view (very similar to SimCity 2000, as opposed to the original SimCity) and you start to build things.

Building is pretty much what you'd expect, although there are a few twists. One is that the planet has no (or bad?) atmosphere so you have to connect them all with tunnels. Terrain makes this difficult, but you can level it off if you want to. Another twist is that a lot of the construction goes on below ground, and you can flip between ground and underground views. Interesting I suppose, but while I would agree that it adds realism I didn't think it added anything to the game itself - except confusion as I didn't even discover this until a few plays in.

There are a wide variety of buildings and what I would call "support structures". They're built using the SimCity UI: select building, click placement. There's a lot of them though, located under a variety of annoying slow to react menus.

Now exactly what you should build, where, and how, I never figured out. In 100% of the times I tried (about four) all my colonists died off. I have no idea why. They didn't complain or anything, you could just see the population counter going down and down, and then they were all dead. So back to the start you go, another 10 minutes of setup to watch them all die again!

Of course it was probably something stupidly simple, but like all of the other mysteries, the manual didn't say anything. Nothing of significance was explained in the manual, unless you think "this is how to click" is significant.

I remember in the original SimCity manual started with an excellent description of all of the various things to build, and why. For instance, power plants produce polution, and that will drive down property value so you should put industry there. But it went further, they then went on to describe (in "detail lite") how the engine went about doing this, and creating things like traffic. Excellent!

Nothing like that in Outpost. Nope, the game was left utterly unexplained at all levels. The funny thing is that you could still figure out SimCity without the manual, but like I said, this game is completely indecipherable.

One day, a year or two after giving up on this heap, I came across the official strategy guide in a used book pile for $1, so I got it. You know what? It was EVEN WORSE. 250+ pages of fluff.

What makes all of this even more frustrating is all the boasting. Everyone talked about this game, it's graphics, it's realism, etc. As it was written by a bonna-fide rocket scientist, all the tech mags jumped all over it. The only thing I saw that looked right was the movie showing your rocket, so I guess that part worked.

So several years and two books later, I still have no idea how to play this game. Maybe someone figured it out, if so, I'd love to hear from you. It's the same sort of "love" that makes me pick at scabs.

The Bottom Line
A festering wound on the body of game design, don't even think about this game.

Windows 3.x · by Maury Markowitz (266) · 2001

Why didn't they just go to the Moon!?

The Good
Outpost does display remarkably good graphics for the time of its release. These 3-D Studio rendered graphics are an impressive feature, and they have an air of realism about them. Industrial factories continue to be an eyesore even on a barren planet devoid of life.

The game is littered with interesting features that add to the realism of the game. The sewage recycling plants that convert crap into multi-purpose goo that’s used in almost every task possible is one of my favourite examples of this! Further realism is that because of the inhospitable nature of the planet everyone lives underground and giant underground caverns must be excavated before the building can begin.

The game has some original building that can be built, who would have ever thought that building red light districts would have proved to be so beneficial for the populace, well one half of it maybe...

The Bad
I’ve got to say that this game has some extremely unusual features within it, playing it you’ve got to wonder about the developers sense of humour and their sanity.

Take for example the production of “luxury goods” for those invisible colonists to enjoy. After building my factory especially designed for producing these goods I clicked on the menu of items that the place could mass-produce for the luxury starved colony. I was expecting classy things, but what had the place to offer? Fuzzy dice! Maybe it’s just me, but fuzzy dice ain’t my idea of anything luxurious. If it was a joke it just succeeded in pissing me off.

Another unusual feature of this game is the fact that you can take multiple turns. Now with turn based strategy games - well, good ones - or any turn based games for that matter, there is never enough time or money available in one turn to get everything you possibly want done, done. Outpost allows you to take huge turn jumps. Why bother waiting five turns to see if the game gets interesting? Nah, just throw in 500 hundred on the old turn counter and wait a couple of loading hours to discover that, despite their being enough food and air for millions of colonists, the small number of them upped and died anyway. Maybe I just didn't make them feel loved…

Looking through the contents of the outpost cd there is an absolutely huge amount of data. Original Dialogue from the Apollo missions (even the infamous "Houston we have a problem" Apollo 13 dialogue) and other dialogue that appears to be from the game are hidden in the cd. I say hidden because it is, all this data just doesn't seem to be part of the game. I've changed the sound setting but got nothing new. To be honest I got the impression that the game wasn't really finished when at the time of its release. How else can you explain the large amount of extras on the cd, extras I might add that are not mentioned anywhere in that pathetic manual.



The Bottom Line
Two words: hideously flawed. Outpost promises much but fails to deliver due to bad design, bad planning and most of all bad gameplay. I just can't help but to compare it to another recent - and heartbreaking- disaster, Master of Orion 3. Both games had great potential and could have been complete successes if only the developers had spent a little more time and a lot more effort on making something worthwhile.

Windows 3.x · by Ciarán Lynch (84) · 2004

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Installation diskette

Despite being released on CD-ROM, version 1.0 of Outpost also included a "Launch Control Disk" in the box on a 3.5" Diskette. This floppy diskette contained BLDGBLD.DAT, BLDGOPS.DAT and OUTPOST.EXE, three files that were required to install the game.

Sales

Despite being considered one of the buggiest games of all time, Outpost was on PC Data's Top Ten best selling games list for several months.

Soundtrack

The orchestrated soundtrack is the classic Mars, the Bringer of War movement from the Gustav Holst symphony The Planets.

Strategy guide

There was an extensive Strategy Guide written for Outpost by the games designer, Bruce Balfour.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – Worst Game of All Time
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1995 - Most Brutal Customer Stultification in 1994
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1995 – Biggest Disappointment in 1994

Information also contributed by Andrew Grasmeder, Leeor Dicker, Rola and WildKard

Analytics

MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Outpost 2: Divided Destiny
Released 1997 on Windows
Squad: Outpost Pack
Released 2024 on Windows
Outpost Kaloki
Released 2004 on Windows
Spaceship Battles
Released 2016 on Android, iPhone, iPad
Xera: Survival
Released 2019 on Windows
3-D Ultra Pinball
Released 1995 on Windows, Windows 3.x, Macintosh
Small Dark House Survival
Released 2022 on Windows
The Survivalists
Released 2020 on Windows, Macintosh, iPhone...

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 1613
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Seer.

Macintosh added by Foxhack.

Additional contributors: Kalirion, Unicorn Lynx, Patrick Bregger, Rwolf, trembyle.

Game added June 15, 2000. Last modified January 23, 2024.