Cast Out: Outcast HD Kickstarter Fails

By Nathan Grayson on May 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Back in the day Outcast aimed for the stars – perhaps even above them – and managed to be surprisingly excellent when you got past its many, many rough edges. The Kickstarter for Outcast’s HD reboot took a similarly ambitious tact (to the tune of $600,000), but it’s sadly fallen short. The Kickstarter’s time on this mortal Internet is now up, and an enhanced remake of the open-world cult classic isn’t happening. At least, not without some other form of funding to back it up.

Outcast’s Kickstarter ran out of time with a mere $268,964 to its name. The crowdfunding effort got off to a pretty strong start when it first kicked off, but it slowed to a crawl and never managed to regain its footing after that.

The game’s team was frank in reflecting on what exactly went wrong, noting that Outcast HD would’ve made a much stronger showing if it had more to show, a more representative trailer, better explanations of key features, and some sort of demo. The next step, then, is to try again in some form or fashion.

“Thanks to your commitment and the overall feedback we received, we truly believe, more than ever, that this project deserves to be done and we are more than eager to make it happen. Will it be through another Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform, paypal, private investment, some bank loans, public support, distributor deals or a mix of all that, we will see.”

“Now, time is for analysis and thinking of the different options we have to finance this project given the economic reality. It may require some time and we’ll do our best to share with you any significant information we might have regarding the next step.”

So Outcast HD will hopefully have a future, but it’s tough to say what exactly that’ll look like right this very second.

It sounds like developer Fresh3D is at least on the right track, though. Granted, learning through failed crowdfunding efforts often comes at its own sort of price. Even if you take another swing at it, you never really get that initial excitement again. Square one becomes square 0.50, and you have to run a couple extra miles. Here’s hoping that’s not the difference between success and failure if Outcast’s team decides to take that route.

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39 Comments »

  1. Myrdinn says:

    While I have vivid memories of going to my local gameshop and picking up Outcast when it was just released; I can’t help but think that most ‘gamers’ (even PC ones) aren’t familiar with Outcast. It was one of my favorite games back then as the scope and interactivity of the world was more advanced than that of any other action adventure game I played before.

    But even though I really enjoyed it years ago, I can’t shake the feeling that it will probably not stand the test of time if they just revamp the graphics.

    • magogjack says:

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again (because I love Outcast), I only played the game four or five years ago (bought it off steam) with no mods and it is on my top ten list for best games of all time. For real!

  2. Diziet Sma says:

    I played through the original so many times I have no need of a remake or HD reimagining. If they were offering a new game , new plot/characters/story set in the same universe with updated mechanics but still “Outcast” I’d be all over it; I just have no desire to pay once again to play the game I’ve already played to death and still own on CD. It’s a shame it failed though, it just wasn’t for me and backing it for the prospect of new Outcast down the road wasn’t a risk I wanted to take.

    • Philomelle says:

      The developers commented during the campaign that the problem with going straight for the sequel is that so very few people played Outcast due to its drunken tech design that there simply isn’t enough of an audience to market the sequel to. The game has a strong cult following, but that following isn’t nowhere enough to pay off for the development costs.

      The result is a rock-and-hard place situation where fans don’t want the remake because they’d rather have a sequel, while everyone else needs a remake in order to want the sequel. Not the best spot to find yourself in.

      • Deano2099 says:

        That’s a false dichotomy though. There are other options. Make a “follow-up” rather than a direct sequel. Outcast: Something after the colon. Set it in the same world, but don’t tie directly in to the original plot, so be entirely accessible.

        Another option is spending significantly less than 600k to just re-do the original game to run in higher resolutions, widescreen, modern OS support and a tweaked UI. Not re-create the entire game from scratch in a different engine. Put that out, sell copies, raise the profile, then do a Kickstarter for a sequel.

        The game is good enough it doesn’t need to look like a modern AAA game to sell. It just needs to not look like something from the 90s.

        • Ninja Dodo says:

          I think the point was less that new fans wouldn’t be able to follow the story and more that they would need a lot more than 600k to do a true sequel, which they have no chance of getting with the current number of fans, hence the need to expand.

          They’re already selling the original unaltered game on GOG, but maybe they could use their Reboot Greenlight to put the original on Steam as well to gather support.

        • Philomelle says:

          “That’s a false dichotomy though. There are other options. Make a “follow-up” rather than a direct sequel. Outcast: Something after the colon. Set it in the same world, but don’t tie directly in to the original plot, so be entirely accessible.”

          Which would involve making brand-new art assets on top of updating the engine for modern tech, thus costing them even more money than the 600,000$ they need to raise in order to simply upgrade the core game.

          You also severely underestimate how bonkers Outcast’s engine is. Just consider the fact that the thing doesn’t support hardware acceleration at all, which is what made it unplayable for most people at the time of its release (as you needed a monster CPU by that time’s standards to run it). It relies purely on software rendering, meaning a lot of high-fidelity graphics options are completely beyond its capabilities.

          The bottom line is that Outcast franchise is still in a place where they would need a mountain of money in order to continue it. The only way to obtain that mountain is to raise awareness of the franchise, and the most affordable way to do so is obtain a moderately sized pile of money that would make the original game compelling for the modern market.

  3. JohnnyPanzer says:

    I have to say, I rarely find much value even in complete remakes, but these HD versions I find downright pointless. I grew up on the C64 and have fond memories of those games, but the fact is that those games had some natural and pretty severe restrictions of what could be done and merely updating them with new graphics will often just shine an even brighter light on exactly how far interactive media has come since then.

    • Jekhar says:

      I also grew up on Atari 2600 and C64 games, but i don’t think you can compare these games to later PC games. The 90s hold a special place in many a gamers heart for a reason. Because games released then weren’t afraid to experiment an push the boundaries in areas other than graphics. Outcast in particular was a very fine semi open-world guns and conversations game. While the controls might be clunky for todays players, it’s scope and attention to detail are still very much on par with modern games.

      • frightlever says:

        Non-HD Outcast that fixes those clunky controls is something I’d want over a HD version. The user interface is ‘orrible.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      So you not gonna get the Homeworld HD remake?

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Nope.

        Edit: Two reasons. I’ve already got Homeworld running in HD and I don’t want to give money to Gearbox, for various reasons.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      The only HD remake I’ve ever bought is Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, because TSE is my favorite Serious Sam game and the demo of Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter looked very good. I started to play games in the late 90s, so I never thought Baldur’s Gate and Outcast had terribly outdated graphics. That’s one reason why I’ve never been interested in their remakes. I also already have the original Outcast and Baldur’s Gate games unplayed at GoG (yes, please forgive me!). I’ll play them first before even taking a second look at any remakes of them.

  4. Ninja Dodo says:

    I don’t know that Outcast had particularly more rough edges than other games of its time. It was not great at platforming, which it had a few instances of, but then neither was Half Life. Not sure you can really hold that against it. At the time (and still in some ways) it was light years ahead of any games like it, to the extent that there even were any. It was a true open world action adventure years before any else figured out how to do those.

    It never gained a following in the US because it was thrown under the bus by the publisher for political reasons and basically no-one bought it outside Europe.

    The kickstarter failed because they had almost nothing to show, didn’t prepare material in advance for updates and did not do a good job of explaining to non-fans what made the original special. I hope they manage to regroup and try again somehow, because the original was amazing and deserves to be played more widely. Even if a sequel would be more interesting, a remake would help make that possible. If it does well maybe just maybe we could have an Outcast 2. I’d be really curious to see what the devs could do with such a game today.

    • FFabian says:

      “It never gained a following in the US because it was thrown under the bus by the publisher for political reasons and basically no-one bought it outside Europe.”

      Please tell more. Didn’t know that.

      • Ninja Dodo says:

        source: http://www.oeilcarnivore.com/?p=4089 (in french)

        I had heard before Infogrames had never really bothered to market it in the US because it was having other problems, but in that podcast interview one of the devs specifically mentions the publisher didn’t bother marketing it because it was “just a little European game” or something to that effect and they wanted to give more attention to domestic titles from newly acquired Accolade.

        The whole thing with voxels and software-only rendering probably didn’t help, but I’d say the lack of promotion was the main reason it died over there.

        • TWChristine says:

          I don’t remember seeing ads for it (though it’s nigh impossible to remember what game ads I would’ve seen 14 years ago), though I do remember there was a review in the US PC Gamer magazine, and from what I remember it didn’t come off highly recommended, so I find it quite interesting to see so many people enjoyed it.

  5. InternetBatman says:

    All the screenshots they posted looked like a game from 2005. That’s a problem when you’re selling a game as a faithful reproduction with better visuals. Same thing happened with BGII EE.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      That seems a bit harsh. I didn’t like some of the texturing on the environments, but the work-in-progress characters looked good. (the zbrush modeling screenshots, not the in-engine original models which they unwisely used in the gameplay video)

    • dahauns says:

      That’s my impression as well – The pitch was simply bad, especially the videos.
      They looked like a over-the-weekend mod project with the old assets thrown in. The second video, with Franck Sauer doodling around a bit in Maya didn’t help either. When you want $600k, you HAVE to be more professional.

  6. phelix says:

    I’ll post this here then. See for yourself.
    http://www.openoutcast.org/wp/

    • frightlever says:

      Making a sequels to someone else’s IP in someone else’s proprietary game engine? I see nothing that could go wrong here.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Probably nothing since it’s non-commercial. The thing that will go wrong is the usual remake mod/fan sequel vapourware since projects like that requires thousands of man hours. It’s lovely that mod makers start these super ambitious projects but they are rarely completed.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      In which the last update was in December 2013, and in the forums one of the latest posts is “Merry Christmas!”.

  7. Deano2099 says:

    One of the lessons learned: “We should have set a lower initial goal”

    This sort of thing always worries me. You set the goal at the minimum you need to make the game. If you set it any lower on the assumption you’ll get other funding to make up the gap, and then don’t, your company folds and you end up screwing over all the backers.

  8. suibhne says:

    I’m sad to see this fail…but you know what? I hadn’t gotten around to backing it yet, either. And then there was no point.

    Their attitude is a little bizarre: they seem to have banked on the game’s cachet as a cult classic when they decided to show almost nothing of the HD version…yet they felt they had to make an HD version because the original didn’t otherwise have enough market power to drive a sequel. Uh…okay.

    Still, I hope this project somehow persists. They had me at “improved UI”.

    • Geebs says:

      I backed this (and was very disappointed to see it fail) because:
      a) the original is pretty painful to look at these days, with lots of graphical elements flickering about – even more so with the high-res patches
      b) even despite that, it’s a very creative game and still plays well; a sequel would be nice but there’s a seriously good game here that people have missed out on because of it’s history
      c) I imagine the original devs aren’t getting paid much for the GoG version, and seeing as it’s the same people doing the remake, it would have been good to see them getting compensated.
      d) They’ve done a good job of updating the graphics while retaining their style; actually, if you look at their blogs, they did some Amiga games with a pretty strong “look”, like Agony

  9. drewski says:

    Outcast strikes me as maybe a little too niche for a remake.

  10. fish99 says:

    I did actually want to play this, since I never finished the game originally, and I would have purchased it, but not via kickstarter. Maybe they can find a way to do it for $250k and try again.

  11. Lemming says:

    Sorry but this had money-grabbing hack-job written all over it.

  12. Freud says:

    Is the original playable on modern computers? Can’t imagine it looking much worse than Minecraft if that was the case.

  13. Danda says:

    I’m a bit shocked by the amount of people that are basically saying: “I consider myself a fan but I chose not to back it”. OK, whatever.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      Yeah, I mean I was disappointed with the campaign, but I still backed it. Even if you don’t care about a remake there’s probably not going to be a sequel without it.

  14. Life Glug says:

    What happens when a kickstarter falls short? Do the people who backed it get their money back?

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Kickstarter only charges your card if the project is successful. When you pledge you give them the permission to charge your card if the project succeeds, but that’s it.

  15. The Random One says:

    That’s a pity, but on the bright side Treachery in Beatdown City succeeded by the skin of its teeth.

  16. Shooop says:

    That was an absurd sum to ask for simply prettying up an old game.

    Yes it’s work to remake old assets, but when there are modders out there who do it for free, you can’t expect to get what some people are asking for to make an entire new game from the ground-up.

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