It Is The Future, The Year 2001: An HD Startopia Gallery

By Alec Meer on October 24th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Hello, faithful word-consumer. Would you care to also consume images this day? I have been replaying post-Bullfrog outfit Mucky Foot’s wonderful 2001 management game Startopia, which recently saw a re-release on Steam (as well as having been on GoG for some time prior to that). It took a bit of fiddling, but I managed to get it running at 2560×1440 with a ton of anti-aliasing and, well, my God. It’s absolutely beautiful to behold despite its 12 year vintage. Partly that’s down to judiciously characterfully artwork and a strong sense of scale, partly it’s because the game has an uncommonly liberated camera, able to go pretty much anywhere. I’m no Dead End Thrills, in a great many ways, but I’ve rounded up a collection of screenshots which somewhat demonstate how breathtaking this game is at high resolution. I really do think you should take a look.

Particularly striking is the view from the bio-deck, from where the camera is able to leave the space station and gaze upon its marvellously detailed exterior, hanging like a battered jewel in a silent, colossal starfield. I could sit watching it for hours. Have done, in fact.

Take a look. You’re very much best off fullscreening this.

I had a mad moment earlier where I seriously considered bankrupting myself with a 4K monitor, purely to see Startopia looking even more dramatic. It is worth nothing that the in-game text is so tiny as to be problematic at 1440p, however, but a bit of squinting is well worth the visual majesty.

If you’re planning on doing similar yourself, you will need the widescreen mod else the game will stretch or crop. You’ll also need to force on anti-aliasing and anistropic filtering in your graphics card drivers. You may get display errors and crashes alas, Startopia’s somewhat temperamental on Windows 7&8, though I seem to have made it stable here for now.

I’ll be bringing you words on how Startopia plays, by today’s standards, in a few days. Hint: it is lovely in almost every conceivable way.

, , .

62 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I did not realize that the game wasn’t widescreen compatible! I also didn’t know it had problems with Windows 7; my GOG version runs like a dream.

    • Leonick says:

      Same here. Never had any instabilities. Only issue I’ve had playing the game is that the UI simply isnt made for any high resolutions, it becomes so tiny :p

    • Droniac says:

      It wouldn’t be very surprising if GOG has done some fiddling to get it to work better on modern PCs. That is pretty much what they do.

      That’s why I wouldn’t buy any of those newly re-released older games on Steam. Steam has never properly supported older games and all of them are also available on GOG where they’re tweaked to function properly in Windows 7.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    It’s a such a shame Mucky Foot couldn’t carry on after this. What a magical game.

  3. Thrippy says:

    Like I said with the Square Enix Collective announcement, this is the most cherry IP out of those likely to be offered. I don’t suppose the question is will there be a Startopia 2, but who will get to make it.

    • Gnoupi says:

      To be honest, after seeing the newest incarnation of Dungeon Keeper (http://geekculture.co/dungeon-keeper-returns-on-mobile/)… I can live with the original Startopia and a widescreen mod.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Goodness that’s sickening.

      • Mags says:

        I think part of me just died at seeing that.

        • mouton says:

          Then again, what do we care. Mobile gamers are a different target audience so let them have their cutsey toys.

      • The_Guv says:

        Argh! Why? I mean why?!? the people who even remember dungeon keeper are not the kinda that like micro transactions! *stomps off* … … … *comes back* Anyways startopia was and is one of my all time favourites. Its Theme hospital, in space, written by Douglas Adams.

      • Hypnotron says:

        Wow. That is like Twilight Zone crazy! ROFL!

        The new Dungeon Keeper will make you feel like you’ve been put on the rack by the Dark Mistress!

      • Hahaha says:

        All the dungeon keeper esque pc games have been crap so mobile versions? who gives two shits……..

        https://wftogame.com – we can only hope that dosen’t follow the trend.

    • Jehuty says:

      I would love to see another game in this vein (or indeed, make one myself), but to my mind there can never be another true Startopia, only because William Franklyn, who played both your charming AI companion VAL, and greasy wheeler-and-dealer Aarona Daal, is sadly deceased. Those two characters lent such a perfect atmosphere and dry humor to the game, and I think it would’ve been a little lonely managing that great big space-donut without them by your side.

  4. Fattierob says:

    No mention of the amazing 1.02 experimental patch that adds dynamic shadows to the game? Written by one of the developers? It works wonders and our current graphics cards are crazy insane enough powerful to make them work

    http://home.comcast.net/~tom_forsyth/startopia/startopia.html

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      Yeah, last time I played my original copy, I played with this patch and it is indeed a luvverly thing. G’wan Alec, apply it then goggle at an even MORE beautiful Startopia.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      I completely missed that so thanks for that! I’ve also been replaying Startopia and having quite a blast.

    • Alec Meer says:

      As far as I can tell it nullifies the widescreen patch. A difficult trade-off indeed.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mungrul says:

        Hrrrm, you might be right there Alec. My addled brain is recalling frustration at having to run 1600×1200 on my 1920×1200 monitor.

      • jonfitt says:

        Ah, so who patches the patches? That’s what I’d like to know.

      • Lemming says:

        Sorry if I’m being thick, but I’m not really seeing an issue here. I installed the 1.02 patch only, (couldn’t even see the download link for the widescreen patch), and in the options I was able to set a resolution of 1680×1050 without adding any other mods. What am I missing?

        • lovcol says:

          You are missing widescreen.
          It will seem fine at first, but the graphics do get stretched without the mod.

    • Thrippy says:

      I’ve used it before but it throws a general protection fault with my current CPU on start up.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes, this must be shouted from the rooftops every time Startopia is mentioned. It is pure developer lovelyness for a game made from it.

  5. razgon says:

    Eh, I’m seeing some vacation pictures? Am I doing something wrong?

  6. iambecomex says:

    I replayed this earlier this year on Win8 – ran unpatched, out of the box in its own native 900p. Ah, games on CD – it was the future don’t you know.

    Oh, and the awful combat still let’s the game down. Sandbox mode though, is just wonderful. Until those things from the Dark Crystal turn up and everything goes pear shaped in a massacre of poor little aliens and burning med-bays. The Horror!

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Yeah, combat sucks. The game could be substantially improved if there had been a research tree to upgrade combat performance, but keeping enemy AI the same. It would have sped things up considerably while keeping the real challenge–making an otherwise functional station–intact.

      And there are some tricks to keeping the monsters at bay. Make sure you place trash bins and security turrets where possible, especially near dispensers and shops. The bins will help keep trash in check, which will keep the larval forms from multiplying (they eat garbage), while the turrets auto-kill the larval forms and will make a big difference if an adult goes on a rampage. Placing turrets around stardocks is a useful way to take out both the larva and spies, though obviously it’s very difficult to justify turrets early on and space becomes a premium rather quickly.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Combat? You mean, like other people managing the same station ring as yours? Madness.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        It’s not a terrible idea; the game is never as combat focused as Dungeon Keeper and succeeding in combat doesn’t require a massive shift in production like in Anno, but it lacks depth or really any control.

        There’s a campaign mission where you compete with other managers but can’t fight, and each person has to pay 2000e every 15 minutes or so per occupied segment. It’s a last-man standing economic fight, and it’s a structure that serves the game extremely well. I would have liked to see it fleshed out more and added as an option for sandbox mode, with more ways to upset the balance than “invade and conquer.” And yes, I know about spies and assassins, but that’s a very indirect method that’s hard to measure.

        • Lemming says:

          Yeah it’s the campaign mission some time after that where you have to actually fight the opponents as they come through your doors. I usually give up on the missions at that point.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            I can never quite remember the order. I thought combat was introduced prior to the Gem Slug mission (where you have to pay the fees), which was followed by the lengthy, difficult final mission for the Sirens.

            If you’ve never beaten the game, there is a cheat code. The final credits were lavished with the same love the rest of the game received and are worth seeing.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            Whenever you’re hiring aliens that can also join combat (everyone except the sirens, monks, gardeners, and scientists), prioritize those with high loyalty, unless it’s a grey with very low skill, because they can make people sick. Loyalty affects their willingness to fight. Start working toward having a line or two of turrets along your borders as soon as possible, research plans for security scuzzers early, and in combat focus on getting a droid to the section lock and claiming it.

            I wouldn’t call Startopia’s combat broken, it’s just not that interesting. Once you realize it’s about spamming troops rather than strategy it’s something you can move past fairly quickly.

          • Lemming says:

            @Drinking with Skeletons

            You’re probably right. I don’t remember seeing gem slugs.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, I never have managed to finish it due to getting stuck on combat missions. I think last I looked/tried I was on the penultimate one.

      • Jehuty says:

        Same here. I think it’s the second to last one, and it required more combat than all of the other missions so far, and after a few tries, I just couldn’t be bothered. I still start up Startopia every once and while, and though most of the other missions were fairly enjoyable, now I just jump straight to the sandbox.

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    My God, it’s full of stars.

  8. Premium User Badge

    MajorManiac says:

    Not Spam. And yes that would look brilliant. [Edit: Original comment deleted. Probably because it looked a bit like spam]

    I would like to see Sacrifice with better resolution and draw-distance. Hell perhaps its already built in. Anyone know?

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah i decided to put in more than two links so it flagged me. :(

      • aldo_14 says:

        If you’re talking about the previous comment, it was pretty spammy – so no wonder.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Their auto-checker just counts links. One link, and it’s ok, even if it’s spam.

    • Vorrin says:

      Oh I’d also like that very much! Actually a full remake with maybe some embettering in AI and interface, would be pretty interesting

      • SuicideKing says:

        The SCP folks have improved and/or tweaked both, but yeah a full remake (especially one that looks like Star Citizen) would be epic.

  9. Vorrin says:

    shoot that sectoid QUICK!

  10. PsychoWedge says:

    to me, Startopia is one of those comfy games that you can play while snuggling in bed on a freezing winter day with a cup of hot chocolate besides you. it’s awesome, every time I play it.

  11. Lemming says:

    I’ve re-bought this as I had no idea it had come to Steam. I’d been using an old copy all this time.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    Coincidentally, I have been playing Startopia myself recently. It remains a truly splendid game, of a genre which seems to have fallen sadly out of favour. It and Evil Genius (a game notable mainly for how much better it could have been) have been scratching my management itch this month.

  13. Daedalus29 says:

    The last time I played it, I never been able to play online with people, even with game rangers or hamachi.

    Is this version fixed for this?

    • Stromko says:

      That’s a good question. Last LAN party I was at, quite some time ago obviously, we were able to play Startopia, but if anyone hit the Escape key it would crash the game for everyone. I think it would crash after an hour or two anyway, though, and there was no apparent way to resume.

      I’d imagine they would get around this by just not marketing it as a multiplayer game, but now I look at the store page and out of its six touted features multiplayer with up to three other players is listed. Now if they haven’t touched the code that would be rather crap. The graphics are fine, the audio is lovely, the gameplay holds up, but by today’s standards the multiplay was, and still may be, broken.

      Though at least with the multiplayer being dated, we did only need my one CD to play. Without that I never would have been able to share the game with my friends who were born in the late 80’s, early 90’s and missed this one first time round.

  14. int says:

    Arona callin’ howzit goin’ now?

    I always hated having to buy from that Cockney alien. Cockneylien?

  15. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Administrator, the Zedem Monks are complaining about your excessive screenshot-taking. They say if you persist in trying to capture their souls they will be forced to, and I quote, “get disharmonious on your karma”. Personally I wouldn’t pay any mind, but that may be because my pointless superstition module is malfunctioning and therefore I don’t believe in karma.

  16. dixiecrandall says:

    ❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥
    my buddy’s mother-in-law makes $88 an hour on the internet. She has been without a job for five months but last month her check was $20521 just working on the internet for a few hours. blog here

    http://WWW.JOBS72.COM

    ❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥❥

  17. vinny_v86 says:

    It is the future,
    The distant future
    It is the distant future,
    The year 2000

    We are robots

    The world is very different
    Ever since the robotic uprising of the mid-90’s
    There is no more unhappiness

  18. tossrStu says:

    For ultimate graphical fidelity:

    Hold down F11
    Type cliveroolz

    YOU’RE WELCOME.

  19. The Random One says:

    Poor Spacebase DF-9!

  20. huldu says:

    Muckfoot if I recall used to be Bullfrog, so that kinda sums it up. It’s a shame to see them both gone because they did create some amazing games back in the 90’s and startopia was a very good game.

  21. Premium User Badge

    neofit says:

    I don’t see Startopia on Steam, must be regional restrictions. On Gog I do not see HD being mentioned. Is this “HD Startopia’ in the title something new in the Steam release, or is it just the old gog version with the widescreen patch?

  22. Teovald says:

    Am I the only one that can’t play this game at high resolutions because it makes all the texts ridiculously small ?
    Or am I missing some option ?