This literally has nothing to do with writing, just to make that clear right at the start. It’s just me waxing nostalgic and being slightly perplexed.
As most of you have guessed (or flat-out know), I play a lot of games. Which is a pretty common and fun affliction. Well, last night as I was quite literally hitting the “random” button on TV Tropes and then clicking “real-life,” I was sent to the TV Tropes page for Outpost 2: Divided Destiny.
Instant nostalgia. You see, I borrowed Outpost 2 from a friend when I was in … 6th grade? Maybe 7th. I’m going to say definitely 7th. Anyway, this game fascinated me at the time, and I spent a number of hours beating it. And last night was the first time I’d thought about it in years.
Basically, Outpost 2 was an RTS. You built a base, built tanks, built defenses … except that most of your defenses were just as actively aimed at the planet itself as they were at your enemy, and the base-building itself was actually quite complex. Because it wasn’t just a base—it was a colony. One of mankind’s last.
It made for a fascinating game at the time. You had to deal with morale, training of personnel, food supplies, power supplies, resource consumption, etc … all before even considering running a war. It was like a strange, simplified version of Simcity mixed with an RTS (you can see examples of this gameplay on youtube, such as with this playthrough). But the campaign was cumulative, with population, research, and morale carrying over from mission to mission, and there was even a novella that came with the game that explained the story and events in depth (which, come to think of it, was my first e-book exposure). This was a game where blowing up an enemy hospital or nursery could tank the war for you because your own citizen’s morale would react to what was basically a war crime! I had a blast playing this game.
And do you know what I realized as I looked at this game yesterday? There’s no modern equivalent. At all. I can’t think of one game that even comes within managing to be at least 50% of Outpost 2. Banished? Well, it’s got some of the survival aspects … but only that, and without some of the fine control. Plus, it’s not in space. Command & Conquer 3? Pretty obviously it only has one side of this equation. Same with just about any other RTS game I can think of. There’s literally nothing out there today like Outpost 2. Nothing!
Which means I might have to see if this gem is somewhere classified as abandonware and up for download, because watching videos of it last night and having all those memories flooding to the forefront made me realize how much I miss playing it. And if there’s nothing like this out there now, well, my options are limited.
That’s the thing that honestly surprised me though: Not finding anything like it out there now. Especially with the rise of kickstarter, if I remember an old game these days and do a quick Google, I’m almost always assured to find something in the last ten years that’s either a sequel or a “spiritual successor” with more modern graphics and gameplay tweaks.
A search for Outpost 2 turned up nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
We’ve let a gem slip through our fingers, people. From the soundtrack I’ve been listening to, to the fun balance of managing a colony while waging war, I’m all of the sudden very aware of a hole in the gaming industry.
Is there a point to this post? Well, to share a little nostalgia for what appears to me to have been a completely forgotten gem of the RTS-era. And as a bit of a “twilight bark” out to the internet. If anyone knows of a modern-day equivalent (or better yet, a competent-looking kickstarter), let me know! I’m suddenly seeing the hole in my game collection, and eager to find the right piece to slot into place.
Enjoy your weekend everyone. I’m going hiking!