Quinnswatch: Startopia Retrospective

By Kieron Gillen on June 7th, 2010 at 10:42 am.

I always remember Ste Curran talking about his favourite thing in Startopia was going up to the Biolab, pulling the camera back so you could just watch space and sitting and relaxing. Awesome game.

Do you miss Quinns? We miss Quinns. His gangly form is still making his way around the world with only a backpack and a delightful girlfriend to keep him safe. He may be gone, but is clearly not forgotten by Eurogamer, who’ve published a retrospective of Mucky Foot’s finest hour, Startopia. He says things like…

It was Babylon 5 run by the Muppets, which is about as flippant a comparison as the game itself.

Which certainly sounds like Quinns. Anyway, read more here and wish for Quinns to hurry on home. And while we’re talking Mucky Foot, I’m reminded of the article I wrote about their rise and fall a couple of years back. You can read that too.

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  1. Jacques says:

    I loved Startopia. Now if I could only get it to work on this Vista laptop.

  2. Tom OBedlam says:

    I played through this again recently, such a gorgeous world. Arona Daal was my favourite bit of the game “It was a present from three of my mothers, so I won’t just sell it to anyone…”

  3. Luke says:

    An absolute classic!

    I’d love to see this make an appearance on Steam, instant purchase :)

  4. mcwizardry says:

    I only ever played the beginning of Startopia. Unfortunately I threw away my copy before I could really get into it. Hope it reappears in some form on any of the DD portals.

  5. Premium User Badge

    mcnostril says:

    Oh man.
    I hate it when I’m reminded of this.
    I usually play it like crazy for a couple of weeks about once a year, and it just makes me sad that no one will ever take it and make it bigger.

    I keep checking its status on GoG to see if gets on, so at least people can still enjoy it (I’m hearing it’s quite hard to find).
    It still looks goods to this day thanks to their brilliant design. A bustling station that spans the entirety of the decks is something to behold (and it doesn’t need ultra fancy shaders to look good).

  6. Archonsod says:

    I remember upgrading a video card so it could handle this after a demo on the front of a magazine somewhere. Dungeon Keeper in space, but better …

  7. evilentity says:

    Just installed it on win7 PC works just fine. Instal patch 1.01b and cardid file from http://home.comcast.net/~tom_forsyth/startopia/startopia.html and it should be fine. Only problem is that UI is really tiny on high resolutions.

  8. Nimic says:

    Startopia was pretty great.

    Though this makes me think of Quinn Dexter.

  9. Omroth says:

    Yay Nights Dawn reference.

  10. cs says:

    This is definitely my favorite of all the sims / city builder type of games and I’m glad it got a retrospective. Anyone who wants to try the game now should take a peek at this guide for some of the game’s subtleties.

    One of the little details the game got right was how it handled the way people felt after combat. After a battle was over, the bars and brothels and churches would suddenly be full of the veterans. Some of the ones who had been in many battles would get so disgusted with war that they’d permanently leave the station. I’ve never seen any other game even attempt to address PTSD issues.

  11. Frenz0rz says:

    Picked this game up for £1 in a second hand shop after hearing wonderful things about it for years.

    Its sublime. A fantastic little game that hits the nail on the head in the same way as Dungeon Keeper, Evil Genius, and seemingly any game created by ex-Bullfrog developers. My only criticism would be that theres so much to do, what with the continuous hiring, firing, building, managing etc, that I never fully experimented with the environmental deck. But then, I guess thats what sandbox mode is for.

    Oh dear, think im gonna have to install this today…

  12. HYPERPOWERi says:

    Startopia makes me sad. Every time I play through the campaign (and I perform said activity at a roughly annual rate), I can’t help but lament the fate of Mucky Foot.

    I’d sacrifice my cat for a decent sequel. ):

  13. Heliocentric says:

    Still installed. The latest patch was a no cd so the barrier to revisiting is low for me.

    Personally my scuzzer armada was always my chosen way to win the game in skirmish, the campaign is just a tutorial. Never actually played multiplayer, a damn shame.

  14. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Every time I play through the campaign (and I perform said activity at a roughly annual rate),”

    Likewise. Startopia was the last great management/tycoon game, if you ask me, and probably the best ever. It still baffles me as to why there are so many shitty ones now (Prison Tycoon 4, anyone), but no proper developers seem to make them any more. Admittedly, only Bullfrog employees and Chris Sawyer seemed to be able to do them right, but there’s clearly a market of sorts for them. Then again, Startopia flopped.

  15. Zhugie says:

    Need to play this sometime. I spent a week doing “work experience” (playing around with python in the corner of an office) at Mucky Foot during secondary school. This was close to the end when they were working on bullet proof monk. They had a pretty cool office. Full of unicycles and inflatable aliens

  16. Kast says:

    Dammit, now I’ve got to go play it all over again! Arona Daal, open up shop cause the Manager is in!

    I’m just sorry I never thought to try and convince my mates to play with at a LAN party cause I’ve never played Startopia MP

  17. Dain says:

    Funny thing is William Franklyn who voiced both Val and Arona Daal actually went on to be the voice of the hitchhikers guide which he so resembled in this game. Perfect casting if you ask me!

  18. Grunt says:

    Okayyy, I’m clearly on the fringes of opinion on this one: I found Startopia rather dull. I ended up giving my copy of the game away.

  19. Fuu says:

    I really loved Startopia, it really was a thing of beauty. It’s still installed now, and I’m trying to get into modding it …

  20. The Great Wayne says:

    Bought it back in the time, that was pretty although my PC struggled with the FPS back then. It was full of good ideas and nice humor.

    Btw, I thought that Quinn went to train in a secret monastery to kick the whole universe next time a strategic-tactical-politico-diplomatic-bastardish game would show the tip of its nose ? Something to do with a prophecy or what the hell.

    I’m slightly disappointed, I liked my story most.

  21. Dean says:

    There’s a few mission mods here: http://www.strategyplanet.com/startopia/modfiles.shtml

    Including two new missions developed by Mucky Foot for an abandoned Xbox version of the game – they’re not voiced but fit in well with the rest of the campaign.

  22. Baka says:

    After reading the article on mucky foot and remembering having a blast with Startopia’s demo many many years ago, I’d really really like to buy it and this “Urban Chaos” I never heard before.
    But neither amazon nor gog or Steam have it in their repertoire. So does anyone have an idea how to get a hold on both of these games?

    And on a different note, would the initial developers see any percent of my dime spent on it?

  23. Tei says:

    I have not finished the game, but is on my list of 10 games to finish :-)

  24. Chris D says:

    I miss Quinns.

  25. Pod says:

    If you like Quinns so much, why don’t you marry him?!?!?!

  26. N says:

    If you dig Startopia you might want to take a look at Space Colony:

  27. piphil says:

    Startopia, along with Defence Grid: The Awakening and Galactic Civilisations 2 are games I love for their Hitch Hiker’s Guide-type sense of intergalactic humour.

  28. Gorgeras says:

    Are we all in agreement though that the ‘Oroflex’ ride was just a giant blow-job machine?

    Now everyone will be scrambling to get a copy.

  29. Jockie says:

    Somehow this game passed me buy and from the reverant tones in which you all spill praise over Startopia I now feel like some kind of RPS imposter. Where can I get it from?

    • HYPERPOWERi says:

      I lost my dodgy, post-Soviet copy when I moved hemispheres. I then bought a decent copy off eBay. I think it’s the only way to get one left.

  30. Nimloth says:

    I spent so many hours playing this game… I’d definitely sacrifice that guy’s cat for a decent sequel.

    -Nim

  31. yogSo says:

    “…and wish for Quinns to hurry on home”.

    He better come back with ‘gaming’s Citizen Cane’ or don’t bother at all.

  32. Aftershock says:

    Does it have enough iron?

  33. LionsPhil says:

    Startopia, yay! Finally got somewhere with the damn combat last time I played it.

    I see the patch link upthread; yet to try this myself, but did you realize he’s patched proper dynamic shadows into it? Code gubbins are on the aformentioned page.

    @N: Ah, Space Colony. Weird little game. No problem with the economic path, but the military one? Argh. I hate combat in management games, and I seem to remember some kind of worm thing butchering you almost instantly.

  34. Dreamhacker says:

    Wow, Startopia. I, too, love this game and own a copy bought shortly after release. It’s a total tragedy Mucky Foot went under, they should have been the ones making DK3.

  35. Lukasz says:

    awww…. I had it. and my friend had it and he had been telling me it is great…
    never brought myself to install it and now i don’t have it…
    :(

    • Dominic White says:

      Honestly, I don’t think there’s be anything morally wrong with looking for a torrent at this point. The studio is dead and the publisher have forgotten it ever existed. A quick google reveals it’s pretty easy to find, actually.

      Although you should really feel bad that you never played it when it was new. Just letting you know that.

  36. Neil says:

    Game are selling the ‘sold out’ version for a fiver

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    drewski says:

    This is one of those games where I thought “huh, that looks kinda interesting” when the reviews first hit – and then promptly forgot all about.

    On the other hand, I played Theme Hospital a while back after picking it up in a sale and thought that was a bit meh so, yeah. I dunno if I’m really the market for the cutesy management fake-sim games.

  38. Crush says:

    I loved Startopia too such a shame no-one bought it. Mucky Foot are indeed quite unlucky as a developer I recall reading some history of Mucky Foot out there a few years ago.

  39. Bhazor says:

    A strange trend I’ve noticed with great games that never sold. Their demos never seemed to work on my computer.
    Sacrifice and Giants had the same weird all-blue graphics, Hostile Waters had broken audio, MDK 1 & 2 had crippling slowdown when ever I zoomed in (which if you’ve played MDK you’ll know is pretty important) and Urban Chaos and Startopia both ran perfectly for about ten minutes before crashing because I moved the camera during the particle effects.
    Anyone else have trouble with those old demos at the time?

  40. Pijama says:

    Startopia has such character that it caused an immediate impression on me when I first played it. A very special game indeed! It’s so sad that we fans were left without our promised sequel…

    Sometimes, you can’t help but feel frustrated at this industry.

  41. fuggles says:

    Better or worse than Space Colony I wonder? Urban chaos was truly awful, so I suspect worse.

  42. Flappybat says:

    Tried to play multiplayer in Startopia for ages but it has massive issues. Trying to save or load will lock up the game and it’s hard to make it an hour without crashing.

  43. Vinraith says:

    I adored this game.. I still have my disc, and I seem to recall it working just fine on XP, perhaps I should give it a reinstall.

  44. Jer says:

    I played the demo when the game was first released and only got around to buying it a few years back off a cheap-o Ebay auction. I was immediately gripped by the Douglas Adams-ness of it, which immediately endeared me to it. It’s a huge shame Mucky Foot didn’t make money-hat sized piles of cash of this game. There is no justice in this world.

  45. Klick says:

    Oh Startopia…classic. I remember getting both it and Theme Park World, and there was no comparison. Startopia was so much better on every count: mood, charm, gameplay, humour, inventiveness, depth, variety, music, character. But what most stands out in memory was how much I HATED Theme Park World’s in-game advisor, and how much I LOVED VAL in comparison.

    Also Urban Chaos was so great, up until the storyline goes a bit less…urban.
    Once GTA 3 came out and the initial ‘OMG!’ wore off, I couldn’t shake off finding it limited exploration-wise because I couldn’t climb rooftops and zipline across whole streets.

    Mucky Foot <3

  46. Gassalasca says:

    I installed it again after 8 years this afternoon after reading Quinns’s piece. Patched it and all. The game slows down and becomes terribly choppy when I try to unpack some of the blueprints. I want to play it, but I caaaaaan’t. :(((((

  47. Thelonious says:

    Beautiful little game. It’s been sitting on my shelf forgotten about for years, but I might just reinstall it now. Tending the garden level and filling it with monks was my favourite pastime.

  48. piphil says:

    I didn’t find that either the patches or the new video card files helped with getting Startopia running on my Windows 7 64-bit PC. However, changing the video card from one of the hardware T&L options to the software not only gets the game running, but looking no different to the accelerated graphics I remember working on XP. Bit weird but at least I’ve got it running again!

  49. Mark-P says:

    Such a wonderful game. The ambience was amazing, and the campaign, though seemingly cut short, never stopped being entertaining. A thing of beauty and wonderfully soothing to play ( except for the frakking bombs ). We may never see its like again ( /covets copy )

    • Premium User Badge

      mcnostril says:

      Bahahahaha. Those bloody bombs.

      I recall the mad dashes all over the station looking for the damned things before they trash something valuable or pretty.
      The worst was when you found it just in time for it to blow up right before you click it, and it takes some precious art and trees with it (and of course kills like a dozen aliens, but who cares about those).

      There was a game speed that I used to enable when playing sandbox so I could go slow-mo and look for them before they destroyed my precious, precious streetlamps and potted plants.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      I’m 99% sure you can search for the bombs with the game paused.

  50. Anodyne says:

    Before reading the Eurogamer piece, I was under the impression that “Mucky Foot” was some sort of pet name for Quinns rather than the developer of Startopia.