Mama, We’re All Voxely Now: Open Outcast

By Kieron Gillen on February 18th, 2010 at 10:10 am.

Cutter Slade is the bets of the Orange-T-shirt-wearing game heroes

Flint linked this to us a couple of days ago, and I haven’t got around to posting it until now. Pah! Anyway, Open Outcast is a work-in progress mod of Crysis Wars, which is trying to create a sequel to the 99 voxel-heavy Cutter Slade-starring classic. They’ve reached their first major milestone, releasing a tech-demo of the game. Crikey. Well done them. You can get it from ModDB and – apparently - it only requires the trial rather than the full version of Crysis Wars. As a historical note, John’s first review was a reader-review submission slagging off Outcast for being like looking at a wonderful world through a snotty hanky. If you look at the four videos beneath the cut, you can tell that 2010 Walker wouldn’t be able to make the same complaints…

__________________

« | »

, , , , .

65 Comments »

  1. Lars Westergren says:

    I loved Outcast and it’s great they are doing this remake, but after all these years “Cutter Slade” is still a cringe-inducing name. Why not name him Rock McChesthair while they were at it?
    :)

  2. Ozzie says:

    It looks great indeed, inspired even! Dialogue is fine too, apart from the missing lyp synching and hopefully placeholder voiceovers.
    I’m still sad that Outcast 2 never came to be and that all the planned followup projects from the designers didn’t see the light. :(
    As I remember one of the developers cited Metal Gear Solid 2 as the reason for cancellation. After its announcement (or release?) the publisher, Infogrames, wanted a more action-y game and at Appeal the developers were divisive whether more work should go into the content or the technology.

    The original Outcast, still unique and very underappreciated.

    • Howl says:

      The soundtrack was amazing and I urge everyone to try and google a few tracks up. It was the Moscow Symphony Orchestra or something like that and will blow your socks off. The choral stuff is great.

    • Ozzie says:

      Agreed. I still listen to it from time to time, it’s amazing. :D

    • Homunculus says:

      Outcast maestro Lennie Moore says in the Something Awful Let’s Play thread for Outcast that’s running RIGHT NOW that he’s composing for The Old Republic nowadays.

      Watching the videos from that thread I was noticing a lot that was all done in that game back in 1999 that took a long while to reach the mainstream; a 3D open world containing actors with schedules that you could influence; Bioware / Obsidian style conversations that have cinematic camera perspective techniques applied during them; motion capture used for all of the major and incidental animations, including a hilariously gawky running gait.

  3. cliffski says:

    As i recall voxels were cpu-intensive. Thats why they lost out when GPUs became much faster.
    But we have quad core superfast cpus now. I bet if you did a voxel game again now it would look light years better than back when it was sued for outcast

    • Seol says:

      Actually you can do voxels on the GPU now, be it by raymarching in a pixel shader, using a geometry shader to tesselatte them on the fly, or rendering them in camera aligned slices. Either way it’d still be faster than on the CPU.

    • Bobsy says:

      That and they looked funny.

      Of course, these days we’re more at a place where we can afford to get away with using voxels as an artistic choice rather than to try and appeal to users who can’t yet afford graphics cards. I’d like to see what modern designers would do if they were given a voxel engine to play with.

    • Chaz says:

      I thought the big advantage to voxels back then was that you could create huge landscaped environments without the need for thousands of polygons and massive textures which were virtually impossible for the average hardware to cope with. Which was why games like Delta Force and a good few flight sims used it. I think Project I.G.I. was the first big landscaped game that I can remember which ditched voxels for polygons.

    • Starcide says:

      @Chaz Terra Nova from looking glass, amanged vast textured landscapes in 1996, and they were certainly polygon based:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strike_Force_Centauri
      and was also an amazing game!

    • Bhazor says:

      Didn’t Crysis use voxels for its terrain?
      I understand that game looked pretty good.

    • Seol says:

      @Bhazor:

      The voxels crysis uses are for editing purposes only, they are tessellated and used as regular meshes in game.

    • Nick C says:

      Terra Nova!! Squeee! I loved that beautiful, beautiful game. Someday, someone, somwhere will do a sequel and the world will be made right again. It was so far ahead of the curve and still has the best jetpacks ever.

    • MadMatty says:

      they shouldve made a GPU for calculating Voxels.
      I does seem to be a lot of potential still in voxels, and i think the original outcast looked absolutely awesome for its time.
      Could be VHS vs Betamax all over again

    • MadMatty says:

      Where we are right now, almost every pixel is a triangle anyway… i bet a hardcoded Voxel graphics card would kick ass if done right!

  4. Heliocentric says:

    How can one legally get a copy of outcast? I missed it first time round.

    • radomaj says:

      What he said.

    • Lambchops says:

      Getting one is half the battle = with every new operating system I try running Outcast again in the vain hope the game wont just show up in a quarter of the screen and stubbornly refuse to shift (or even work at all).

      i’d love to get it working again – and always mention so in this type of thread in case someone with the know how to do so is reading!

      The cancellation of Outcast 2 is probably the only time I’ve been genuinely, properly disappointed by the canellation of a computer game. If this mod is good I will be a happy bunny and buying Crysis will have been worthwhile after all.

    • Mr Pink says:

      Sadly Lambchops I have had similar issues getting it to run on XP, or anything more recent. When I saw this post I was hoping for some kind of engine update for modern systems, but I guess this will do as second best.

    • Rich says:

      Works in XP. Or at least it did last time I checked. Picked it up second hand in a GameStation ages ago.

      Shame my damn Twon’ha, or whatever those giant camel-bird pack beasts were called, couldn’t actually walk or run. If I wanted to get anywhere fast I had to bunny hop the damn thing.
      Apparently that was a bug they never got around to patching.

      A memorable moment has to be the first time I heard Star War’s sad tune being played out of tune and insanely lound by a busker in the market. It quickly became annoying.

    • Rich says:

      And for those of us in Britainland there appears to be 2 copies available for £10 on amazon.co.uk. Get um while their hot.

    • Kakksakkamaddafakka says:

      Have you downloaded the lastest patches?

      I seem to remember there was one you had to run even before you installed the game. It was some sort of new patched installer or something, but yeah, tricky game to get running on a lot of gear. Would be nice to play through it again. It had some intense atmosphere.

      … and to be honest, the original looked a lot better than these videos.

    • Alchemda says:

      I’ve heard that you can use CPU Grabber (google it) and set the amount of CPU you want it to grab. I’ve heard that reduces alot of the problems. You’ll have to test out what speed to set it at, but some people says 55% or so is god.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Yeah, Twon’ha + fast processor = bad idea. I think simply disabling all your cores but one might suffice.

    • Ozzie says:

      @Rich: You could actually pay the flute player to STFU! Was pretty funny. :D

  5. Moot (at work) says:

    I tried in vain to play the original on release…all I remember is it being bugged as hell.

    I couldn’t even get it to boot on my (at the time very decent PC) due to some (IIRR) CDROM drive incompatibility issues. I don’t believe I was the only one…

    :-(

  6. Darkflight says:

    Ah Outcast, only took 2 patches before I could even install it, it used to delete itself after the installation process ended.

    Well worth the hassle though, amazing world and as already posted the music was wonderful.

  7. Tunips says:

    Outcast is still very much amongst my favourite games. It had that very rare and wonderful thing – a world worth saving. Crysis, with its own voxel systems, seems like a perfect match to recreate the game, but yods help them inspire that sense of society, community even, that was so wonderful in the original.

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Maybe I’m jaded, but I don’t see anything very special about this. Other than that the stance of the main character makes him look a bit like a gorilla. But I haven’t tried it myself, so maybe the walkthrough don’t say too much?

  9. neolith says:

    I still have the original Outcast SE Box. Sadly, I’ve never gotten the game to work on any of my computers since I bought it… :(

  10. SuperNashwan says:

    I would kill for a simple resolution hack for Outcast.

  11. Bhazor says:

    Aww hell yeah.

  12. Sam A. says:

    well, nothing for it, I guess I’ll finally have to pick up this shirt.

    (hope that code worked)

  13. Rinox says:

    Talk about voxels always makes me think about the Blade Runner game, another semi-forgotten gem.

  14. Hmm says:

    Outcast is one of the best PC games over! So underrated, hardly anyone noticed it when it came out. Outstanding achivement, just like Trespasser – they both were ahead of their time.

    Pity there’s no way to increase the resolution.

    Anyway, for those interested in making the game run on modern systems…
    http://elvesbane.wordpress.com/2007/12/13/old-games/

  15. Eidolon says:

    OMG OMG OMG

  16. Ravenger says:

    I loved this game, even though I thought I was going to hate it when I first heard about it. I tried to run it under XP recently, but it was a no-go, partly I think due to the DVD check.

    I also tried running it under a virtual machine running Windows 98, but that wasn’t successful either.

    Would be nice if GOG could work their magic to get it running on modern systems. I’d buy it again if they did.

    The soundtrack is indeed excellent. The music was all CD red book audio, so it’s easy to MP3 it if you’ve got the original discs.

  17. RogB says:

    this looks ace, bings back memories. someone do Midwinter 1 or 2 in crysis engine now please!
    or UDK for standalone goodness.

  18. Steve says:

    Coo… now this i must check out.

    Amusingly the original is sitting in its jewel case not 3 feet from where i am now.

  19. UK_John says:

    No point with this mod, even though it’s free, if you can get the original working in XP, etc, like I have been able to do, as it still looks totally beautiful even though it’s at 512 or even if you get it to work at 640!

    Do this, install the game (if you can’t patch #1 needed), then install patch 3, then go into the ‘oc’ folder, right click on each of the oc.exe’s and the loader.exe. You may need to unmark ‘read only’. Then put them all in Win98 compatibility. If you want the game in 640×480 then get the patch from Wiki, as above, or google it. There are actually two 640 patches.

    So far, so ‘elvesbanes’, this is where I diverge:

    Google and download SpeedSwitchXP. It is designed to use less power on laptops, but it does this by slowing down the CPU. Once installed it leaves an icon in the start bar which you right click on and choose ‘Max Battery’. On my PC it takes my 2.8ghz dual core to 1ghz dual core. I then Ctrl Alt Del and use Affinity to switch off one CPU, I now have a 1ghz computer. I then run a slowdown utility called CPUGrabber and set it for 40% slowdown.

    I then start the game. If I get ‘cannot play audio track do you want to start the game?’ I say ‘No’ and change the percentage on CPUGrabber. Eventually, for your PC, you will find the sweet-spot.

    All this will allow you to start and play the game, but just as importantly, slows your PC down enough to be able to ride Twon-Ha’s and move normally through the ricefields!

    Good luck!

  20. yns88 says:

    The visuals are great, but I really hope they’re actively looking for another animator. Voice acting…well, there’s not much you can do about that with no budget. Some mods just get lucky and have quality voice actors contribute for free; this one didn’t get lucky it seems.

  21. jm says:

    Yeah, what he said.

  22. Count Floyd says:

    I do remember a CPU Test (far ahead of its time then) in the installer which tested requirements (MMX present etc. far ahead of its time then). Unfortunately they did not know about speedy future processors so it refuses to install on faster comps. I don’t know if there’s an official patch, I had to patch it myself back then. Of course you might want to try somehow throttling your CPU before.

  23. icabod says:

    I liked the original Outcast, tho’ it took me years to get around to completing it. Ah yes, low-res graphics on a 22″ monitor… pixels the size of your fist!

  24. Waltorious says:

    I played the original Outcast for the first time and just finished it about a month ago. Fantastic game. I got it to work on XP using a method similar to what UK-John suggests (i.e. installing the patches and setting the .exe to Windows 98 compatibility mode). Then I used the freeware program CPU grabber until I found the sweet spot. I’m still running a single-core CPU though so that probably made it easier. For multi-core CPUs I think you need to get the game to run on only one core and then slow that one down.

    Anyway, after doing this it ran perfectly, no problems with Twon’ha or anything… the tiny intro movies with the developer logos ran in a little thing in the corner of the screen but the actual game ran almost fullscreened… I think the screen was at 640 but the game was running in a 512 window inside that. Nevertheless, I was constantly impressed by how gorgeous it looked. Seriously, it’s low resolution but in other respects was so far ahead of its time, in terms of character animations and the landscape. It also has a really interesting plot and quality voice acting. I highly recommend people try it out, it’s worth the trouble of getting it running!

  25. malkav11 says:

    For those of you who seem to think this is a remake of the original game, you may wish to read the original post more closely, or watch the embedded videos. This is an attempt at a followup, not a remake.

  26. g-eJ says:

    I remember being 11 at the time, but a fanatical reader of PC Gamer, and (at least in my hazy memory) they gave it a great review and it looked fantastic to me, so I rushed out to buy it. Because of that bug I have to this day never played it, which was massively disappointing at the time, second only to when I had technical problems with Little Big Adventure 2 (though wonderfully I eventually got that working a year or so later and loved it).

    Is it worth going back to now?

    • Ozzie says:

      I think it is, yes. The last time I played it was 4 years ago.
      In some ways it didn’t age that well, like, there are some arcade-y and platformer elements that don’t fit with the overall quite realistic world depiction. There’s a quest I’m thinking of, a passage of rolling boulders with endless momentum in the mine world…that always seemed a bit weird.
      Also, the game is much more funnier than it should be. All the one-liners of Cutter Slade and the caricatures of characters are in some ways a disservice to the otherwise serious and epic story.
      But these are the only things I’m not really fond of in the game. Okay, and the ego perspective. Outcast is really not a good ego shooter. But you shouldn’t play like this either way. ;)

      Otherwise, amazing! :)

    • Ozzie says:

      Oh, the mine world I’m refering to is actually called “World of Mountains”. Well, you’ll see. ;)

  27. Muzman says:

    Looks nice. Looking forward to them doing that big desert city whose name escapes me (I didn’t watch all the videos)
    Although it’s not exactly a remake, since the lines aren’t so well delivered I often wonder how hard it’d be to just get the files from the old game and use those. Who owns it these days? It’d probably fall under “Easier to say no and legally in the right” but it might be worth a try for a pretty much abandonned game like this.

  28. Crush says:

    I still remember Outcast one of my favorite PC games, great soundtrack and a decent story too. This remake looks awesome.

  29. PHeMoX says:

    In a sense some of the modern titles of today remind me of Outcast. Like for example Mass Effect, but also some parts of the Knights of the Old Republic games.

    In more than one way though, Outcast is one of those gems of the past. I’m still hoping for a serious sequel, but this being the next-best thing, I am seriously excited about this!

  30. sterling silver hoop earrings says:

    I will follow your tips. Thanks

  31. Mac says:

    gog gog
    gog gog
    gog gog
    goggity GOG!

    (sorry — GOG.com just released Outcast today for 6 USD)

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>