I watched a hard science fiction movie recently by the name of Moon in which Sam Rockwell is the lone human operator at a lunar mining operation that harvests energy to meet earth’s energy needs. The movie reminded me heavily of a game from Sierra that I had always wanted to try named Outpost.
So I tracked down the game on eBay (along with a few other fluffy titles that will show up on this blog eventually). The game is already in MobyGames, but not with very many screenshots. Unfortunately, I could not make the game run in Windows XP. I was able to capture the above screenshot using a separate movie player — the game uses many FLIC animations, one of the oldest of the old school animation formats.
Popping the CD-ROM in the tray produces the following dialog:
Clearly, this is a later revision of the game, ideally with some bugfixes. But afterwards, it launches the setup.exe program which is clearly indicated in the task bar:
But does not do anything else, aside from playing a sound. It should be noted that the usual Windows compatibility hacks were fruitless. So, all in all, a disappointment… or was it? The game comes with a 120-page manual in PDF format. While interesting and well-written, it’s also very long. Playing this game would have been a significant time investment, not unlike attending a class on a subject that won’t be particularly useful throughout your life. At the risk of sounding elitist, the more I read through the manual, the more I felt that I should be putting my vast intellectual resources to better use (there are at least 1/2 dozen unentered Barbie games, for example; or maybe even something completely unrelated to gaming).
According to the MobyGames trivia entry, this game was once awarded “Most Brutal Customer Stultification in 1994” by a gaming magazine.
- Skateboard Park Tycoon, a simulation game that sucked me right in
- Restaurant Empire, a simulation game that wasn’t quite as riveting
5 thoughts on “<span>Sierra’s Outpost</span>”
Mike, having played this game to one of the “ends”, the time investment is mostly upfront- you need to make a bunch of decisions early on, and if you manage not to screw things up in the early game, you’re pretty much set- except for something like a plague, or in the late game when you get AI and it goes berserk.
It does offer the ability to tell it how many turns you wish to pass once you finish up that turn, which makes what could be a very long experience into a much shorter one if you so choose.
I don’t remember my version numbers off the top of my head, but I believe that 1.5 (which was most often seen in the budget jewel case version of the game) *might* actually be the version (latest?) that’s playable. See… the initial release of the game, in the fancy box, and the 300 page manual (may be an exaggeration) was filled with game-killing bugs where the AI would decide to have you colonists defect to the “rebel” colony no matter what you did to make them happy. Sierra released a couple of patches, none of which seemed to actually help much (the game ran off the CD-ROM, they had no way to alter the disc’s datafiles) and people grew frustrated. As a result, people grew to hate this game and Sierra quietly re-released it as a budget title with new datafiles. There *may* have been an offer from Sierra to trade-in the CD-ROM for a new version, but if there was it wasn’t heavily publicized.
At the time of it’s release the game was heralded as being developed with at least one ex-NASA employee and would be the most realistic depiction of what it would take to colonize another world. In reality, you get a SimCity game with buildings that act differently and it isn’t unlike Moonbase.
On an unrelated note, Sierra/Dynamix released a sequel, Outpost 2… that everyone ignored because of the bad taste left by it’s predecessor… but is actually a rather fun (if lower difficulty) RTS game taking place a few generations after the colony(ies) are built up.
Multimedia Mike says:
@Wildkard: Indeed, and that’s why I remembered Outpost– I recall the hype about it being based on cutting-edge NASA research.
I played this when it originally came out. There were a lot of times where everyone just died or defected for no reason. But I was still able to ‘complete’ the game multiple times. I really wish it had not been rushed. It would of been one of the best games ever, IMHO.
I recently re-installed it on Windows 7 using a virtual machine set up with Windows XP, and then setting the Compatiblity Mode WITHIN the XP VM to Windows 98 I believe.
I played the game to death, and still do. I’m looking for modding software for it so I can edit things like how much and what type of resources you get from mines and smelters, how much food is made from bio domes, etc. etc. but I dont know were to find the software or any other way of modding the data. I assume all that data is stored in the dat files but I dont know how to access them. I tried changing the extensions to xls but that didnt do the job.