Outcast Reboot HD Wants Your Kickstarter Monies

By John Walker on April 7th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

The first thing I ever got published in PC Gamer was a reader review of Outcast. In the next issue I was being paid to write, but I can assure you the two events weren’t connected. In fact, having written about why I really didn’t like Outcast, I was lucky to get work at all. “Pixels the size of your fist” I believe I wrote of the not-actually-voxel-based free-roaming action-adventure. Well, I’ve now got a chance to be wrong all over again, as a bunch of the original developers have bought all the rights from the wow-do-they-still-exist Atari, and have just launched a Kickstarter to see the game remade.

Outcast came out in 1999, and while it was a critical darling, it was a sleeper hit for players. Gaining its reputation over the years, it’s now fondly remembered by very many, boosted by a GOG release in 2010 that fixed it up to work on modern machines. However, all that popularity came too late for developers Appeal, who went bankrupt during the development of a never-seen sequel.

Then, back in July last year, former Appealites Franck Sauer, Yann Robert and Yves Grolet bought the IP back from the tattered remains of Atari, and have clearly been plotting ever since. Here’s the pitch video:

They’re after a whopping $600,000, but then there’s a lot of love for the game out there. However, and this seems kind of significant, there’s absolutely no sign of the new version in the Kickstarter. Not a clip nor screenshot. Adding to concerns, they’ve picked $20 as their minimum price for a copy of the game, and that’s only for the first 2000. It’s then a $25 for the entry fee, for a vanilla digital version. Perhaps they’ll sail by on the name alone, but these sorts of pricing levels don’t tend to do nearly as well as those $10 lower. More people pay slightly less, developers.

They’ve got high ambitions – stretch goals are announced on day one, and reach up to $1.7m. For a remake of an old game. It’ll be interesting to see how this one goes.

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64 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I assume the 56 games of PC gaming that are better than Outcast are either already being remade, or so already perfect that they do not require it?

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    One of my favourites, I’d have backed a sequel (even a spiritual one, there are nowhere near enough games like it) in a heartbeat but not so sure about a remake.

    If they promise to fix the thing where you couldn’t 100 % complete the sidequests I might be in!

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Absolutely. When I finally decided to buy a PS2 (for GT3) one of the things that tipped me over the edge was Appeal planning to release Outcast 2 on there before the PC. If they were going to KS to finally get to make that game then it’d have been my first KS pledge, regardless of the price tiers and lack of footage. But to remake Outcast? No thanks; I played it several times and adored it when it was new, I don’t need to go back.

      • skittles says:

        “Enhanced adventure:
        . Annoying story bugs removed
        . Improved HUD
        . Improved inventory
        . Improved notepad
        . Improved dialog interface”

        Also John is incorrect they do show some content for the remake in the pitch video. Particularly near the end of the pitch is a flythrough of a first attempt at remaking the environment.

  3. Keyrock says:

    For once when someone states that a game was “ahead of its time” they were right on point. Outcast was mind boggling when it came out in 1999. There was really nothing to even compare it to back then.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      There were so many wrongheaded comparisons to Tomb Raider. I guess they were both in third person, both involved exploring, both involved shooting, both involved swimming; but there the similarities end.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        To me, comparing Tomb Raider and Outcast sounds as weird as comparing Outcast with Jedi Outcast.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Outcast is unmatched in some respects even to this day. People you talked to would break out of dialogue and point out approaching soldiers, if a patrol came nearby. You could overhear contextual conversations between Talans, spoken in their native language, which actually made sense once translated.

      This is the kind of attention to detail that makes a game immersive, far beyond visuals.

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      I bought it and sat on it until I got a PC capable of running it better. By that point my new PC was so fast it encountered a “your PC is so fast that it causes the clock to run so fast that the main quest just dies and you can’t trigger it” bug. I gave up and used MoSlo two years later after learning about the bug’s cause. And I beat it in days with hours and hours and hours of play every day. I am so fucking KickStartering this you can’t even something it. I’m there. With bells on, Ulukai.

  4. megazver says:

    I was actually able to play the original when it came out.

    It was fantastic. Truly one of the best games I’ve played.

  5. Okto says:

    ” It’s then a $25 for the entry fee, for a vanilla digital version. Perhaps they’ll sail by on the name alone, but these sorts of pricing levels don’t tend to do nearly as well as those $10 lower. More people pay slightly less, developers.”

    btw: the minimum badge is 5$, John Walker. Would be great if you correct your text instead of nagging about money.

    Even tough you was right some minutes ago. ;-)

    • Skiddywinks says:

      Minimum badge? What? The article states it’s twenty bucks for the cheapest tier that includes the game. That info is correct.

      • fish99 says:

        I never quite understood why there are often kickstarter tiers which don’t include the game.

        • Skiddywinks says:

          People might like the idea but not want to commit a lot. Personally I fall into the “Value is more important than price” category, so don’t see why someone would pay (say) a fiver to help, instead of twenty to help more and get something out of it. But looking at kickstarters it would appear there is a demographic that disagrees with me, and if hey are willing to contribute for the betterment of everyone else then I’m all for it.

          • The Random One says:

            I sometimes pitch in a single dollar to projects I’m interested in but unwilling to pay for before it’s actually out, so I get backer updates and will know when the full game is out. If there are cute $2 or $3 options I’ll sometimes bump up to them as well.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      5 dollars doesn’t get you the game and while being featured in the “backers credits” section is nice, most people actually want to have access to the game they’re pledging to.

    • John Walker says:

      I’m not sure how what I said is inaccurate. $25 is the cheapest level that gets you the game.

  6. Skiddywinks says:

    Was only just the other week looking in to buying the GOG version and what mods I would need to get it running at native resolution etc. Gave up because I read some contradicting stuff as well as a lot of info being outdated.

    This would be great, but I have to echo concerns about the target and pricing tiers.

  7. Geebs says:

    If I end up with both the original and the HD remake of the same game, unplayed, in my backlog, will I become my own grandfather?

  8. Swyyw says:

    There is a flyover scene at around the 5:15 mark in the video that I think shows the new version (no 5:3 ratio, cast shadows, water reflects environment, etc.). I don’t know if that’s representative of the final result, but they do show a little something.

    • John Walker says:

      I spotted it, but wasn’t sure what that was. And since they made no claims of its being in-game, and since there’s not a single screenshot of the game on the page, I decided to give it the benefit of my doubt.

  9. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    Not voxel based? So you’ve all been letting me get on with the last 15 years believing a lie? I knew that its objects were made from common or garden polygons, but… but..
    Huh. So what technology does power Outcast’s uniquely hideous visuals? In simple words that someone who’s been up since 5 can understand please.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Uniquely hideous visuals?

      Pistols at dawn. Name your second as you please.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Get in line buddy, this one’s mine.

        • Premium User Badge

          DrScuttles says:

          The blurry and oppressively indistinct landscape of Outcast looks to me like someone took the graphic equaliser readout of a Status Quo song, made it somehow human (with Science), murdered it in an elaborate manner involving steel cable and a baobab tree on a Thursday and then stretched the resulting lifeless skin limply across the player’s limited and oppressively foggy field of vision before sitting back and proudly expecting praise. Praise that they could do it while never asking themselves whether they should.
          I’ve never been able to play it for more than 20 minutes.

          If this means pistols at dawn, then so be it. So long as you two give me the courtesy of explaining which end I point where.

          (and all this is not to say that I don’t wish them the best for their Kickstarter)

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          I believe I demanded satisfaction first.

          Pistols at dawn?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Outcast was powered by the tears of your expensive add-in Voodoo 3D card.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    Go to the Kickstarter project, click on “Ask a Question” and then ask for mod support.

    Also, Charlie Brooker’s review – https://web.archive.org/web/20110527090754/http://www.computerandvideogames.com/3271/reviews/outcast-review/

    • Scurra says:

      Thank you for that link. Especially since I found it most amusing that all of his negative points (Far, far too ‘talky’, Baffling plot, Unexciting combat, Too much unfocused rambling) are exactly the reasons why I loved it, and why I think that the game (like Deus Ex) still stands up today.

      • Stupoider says:

        Isn’t it bizarre how he hated Outcast for those reasons yet constantly praises The Last of Us and GTA5? (Always found Rockstar games to be INCREDIBLY talky, so much filler dialogue that I wish I had the option to turn it off!)

  11. MOKKA says:

    Outcast might be my favourite game of all time (it’s trapped in an eternal struggle with Baldur’s Gate) and I’m really happy that the original creators managed to get the rights back from Atari.

    Don’t know what to think about the Kickstarter. I would be happy to see an HD remake of Outcast, but on the other hand, I don’t want to see the developers being forced to make compromises because they ran out of money.
    However my biggest concern right now is to not fall for the temptation of pledging an insane amount of money on one of the higher tiers.

    By the way: Play Outcast.

    • Premium User Badge

      G-Lord says:

      I pretty much feel the same (apart from the last part, couldn’t resist pledging a hefty sum). While Outcast HD is interesting, I’m mainly in to get them to make the teased Outcast II eventually.

  12. hideinlight says:

    Why not just do it all on the Unreal Engine 4? That engine has been designed to streamline the process and reduce time.

    Can’t these old school devs work with modern technology?

    • manny says:

      Normally I would agree, but they built the engine, and it would probably take longer to rebuild everything from scratch in a new engine, they can’t just copy and past from one engine to another.

  13. faelnor says:

    I’d be fine with a simple port to modern systems and higher resolution support + bug fixes. HD remakes aren’t really my cup of tea, also much of the charm of the game was in its technical novelty and voxel engine.

  14. Pliqu3011 says:

    I wish they could get Lennie Moore back on board to create some new pieces, though, realistically, the funds will probably not stretch that far (let alone far enough to hire the Moscow Symphony Orchestra again)…
    I can’t think of many game soundtracks that are better than Outcast’s.

  15. Mittens89 says:

    This, Half Life, Thief and Homeworld MADE MY CHILDHOOD!

    And also Black & White, Unreal, System Shock 2…. Ahhh, the good old days.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Jalan says:

    That score by Lennie Moore still holds up today as one of the best ever recorded for a video game. It’s a shame they made the tiers to get a CD of it so high up on the ladder.

  17. Urthman says:

    Weird there’s no mention of the Open Outcast project (trying to remake Outcast in the Crysis engine). Does this raise difficulties for that mod project? Or is it dead anyway?

  18. burnside says:

    It’s sad and funny at the same time, that the kickstarted project don’t even have the proper screenshots and everything, while there is already a closed beta of the unofficial remake “open outcast” on CryEngine.
    From the looks of it: it has better graphics, it’s free and it was made by the fans for the fans. http://www.openoutcast.org/wp/

    • Rich says:

      I thought it was a sequel. Glad to hear it’s getting somewhere.

  19. ulix says:

    Is some of the music from the Kickstarter video by Lifeformed, who did the Soundtrack for Dustforce and some most of the music for those Double Fine Adventure (now known as “Broken Age”) documentaries?

    I love his style! Man, that dude makes amazing music!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    This is the 57th greatest Outcast comment in this thread!

  21. Sutenvulf says:

    Outcast holds a very special place in my heart, one of the first games I ever played in my early teens and my most treasured game, I remember playing the demo to death from an issue of PCG, took me months to save the money from my paper round for it.

    I remember emailing Yves several years ago and I remember him saying he would have liked to revisit it one day, I’m so pleased they have the opportunity.

    As for Kickstarter, never backed a project although many have peaked my interest, most of those failing or not delivering what was promised puts me off, but like a couple have said above, I’m so tempted to throw as much money at this as I can afford.

    Edit: Thanks very much RPS for bringing this to my attention.

  22. bill says:

    I remember reading the PC Gamer or PC Format review of Outcast back in the day. I don’t remember which, as the two were pretty interchangeable. But they gave it a terrible score and mainly complained about the graphics being pixelated and the game being slow / open / boring.

    It sounded terrible so I avoided it.

    Later I discovered that it was wonderful. I think back then we were in the grip of new shiny 3d graphics cards, and basically all 3d games were expected to be Quake or Tomb Raider. They were unlucky doubly to have tech that didn’t support everyone’s new high res cards, and a game that wasn’t really an action game, but got reviewed as one.

    Still, that bloody impossible stealth ‘training mission’ in the tutorial did its best to put anyone off who did actually try it. I’d have given up on the game right then if someone hadn’t told me that such finicky stealth wasn’t actually needed ever again in the game.

    PS/ the GOG forums have some high resolution patches, etc..

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Also you don’t actually have to succeed at the stealth tutorial. If you fail enough times the guy says ‘let’s just tell the others you did all the challenges and call it a day’.

  23. Frank says:

    I played it for the first time within the last year and it ran and looked fine, so … why do this? If these folks were so far ahead of their time before, why don’t they pitch something original now, too?

  24. Muzman says:

    It’s kind of amazing how you read old reviews of Outcast and so many of them say “it’s got far too much of stuff we’ll be sorely missing in 15 years. Oh how damned spoiled we are right now”

    I’m also kind of intrigued how Outcast was given a lukewarm reception, but Deus Ex – which, while an improvement in some significant respects, is easily as talky, clunky and slow as Outcast and perhaps moreso – received raves all over.
    I guess the story of Outcast isn’t that stunningly original. But it’s well done at least.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I think it’s mainly because the publisher never bothered to market it in the US so it basically died over there. It’s hard to get much recognition if no one plays your game.

  25. Spoon Of Doom says:

    I loved Outcast back then, but never completed it, partly due to my PC not quite being up to the task. This would be a great opportunity to get into the game after all those years (and yes, I do know about the GOG version, I already own it, but the size of my backlog fills me with shame). I’ve backed it – even if it turns out shitty or doesn’t even get made, I’ve lost twenty dollars, whatever. But in a best case scenario, a successful Kickstarter gives us a prettier, more bug free version of Outcast, and depending on the success, might even trigger a sequel down the line.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    YES.

    By the way, for those who haven’t read these:

    Outcast post-mortem: http://francksauer.com/index.php/games/unpublished-prototypes/16-games/unpublished-prototypes/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47:outcast-pc&catid=15:published-games

    What happened to Outcast 2: http://francksauer.com/index.php/games/unpublished-prototypes/16-games/unpublished-prototypes/29-outcast-2-the-lost-paradise

    If this means more people will get to experience a forgotten classic: great. And maybe if it does well we’ll get that sequel after all. Really curious to see what they could do with a new game.

  27. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Looked great back in the day but gameplay was poor & the UI interface & virtual camera got in the way I wish them well but $600K to remaster in a newer game engine they already own so no licence fees is a little naughty restricting 2000 people to $20 if they want the game is not likely to get them close to $600k.

    I see this getting cancelled long before it hits the required 30 days the devs are a little too greedy here if they believe in the game so much why do they need $600k!!

  28. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I missed Outcast the first time around (only seeing a demo where you could bimble around a mostly empty landscape, as I recall), but got it on GOG for cheaps. Fun stuff, except at one point a critical NPC I needed to talk to was stuck halfway up a wall, out of shouting range, apparently. Ho hum.

  29. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    Threw $20 at it, because I never managed to get anywhere in it; when it first came out, my PC ran the game very patchily, and I still haven’t got around to playing the version I bought from GOG many moons ago. It still lingers in the periphery of my gaming consciousness, though; part of that wonderful era where technology first allowed for some really interesting, weird and different games, and it remains a shame that although we definitely have some great stuff now, the combination of a significant budget and a novel, unique concept is a rare find.