Outcast is an action-adventure video game developed by Appeal and released by Infogrames for Windows in 1999. It was named the "Adventure Game of the Year" by GameSpot the same year.
1999 Introduction Video
Outcast's graphics engine is mainly a combination of a ray casting (heightmap) engine, used to render the landscape, and a texture mapping polygon engine used to render objects. The "Engine Programming" section of the credits in the manual has several subsections related to graphics, among them: "Landscape Engine", "Polygon Engine", "Water & Shadows Engine" and "Special effects Engine".
Although Outcast is often cited as a forerunner of voxel technology, this is somewhat misleading. The game does not actually model three-dimensional volumes of voxels. Instead, it models the ground as a surface, which may be seen as being made up of voxels. The ground is decorated with objects that are modeled using texture-mapped polygons. When Outcast was developed, the term "voxel engine", when applied to computer games, commonly referred to aray casting engine (for example the VoxelSpace engine). On the engine technology page of the game's website, the landscape engine is also referred to as the "Voxels engine". The engine is purely software-based; it does not rely on hardware-acceleration via a 3D graphics card.
Outcast features effects such as character shadows, depth of field, bump mapping and reflections. Anti-aliasing is used to smooth certain texture boundaries. The heightmap engine renders reliefs with self-occlusion, motion parallax, andsilhouettes (but no shadowing)--even for details such as cobblestones. Water surfaces appear both translucent and reflective. The surface appears to reflect the environment (the skybox) and appears rippled with moving waves, which react to the character's movement while in the water. The degree of translucency depends on the viewing angle. The more vertical the angle, the clearer the water appears while the more horizontal the angle, the stronger the reflections. Other visual effects include bloom and lens flares, falling snow, fire, and other glowing particles. The disadvantage of this type of CPU-intensive software-rendering was that Outcast required an extremely powerful CPU (nothing but the most powerfulIntel Pentium III processors of the time, in the 500-600 MHz range) and massive amounts of RAM (128 megabytes were recommended) to run at full speed and maximum resolution (512x384). However, these considerations can now be safely ignored, as even low-budget PCs of today significantly surpass those requirements, even to the point that additional software is needed to make the game slow enough to be played.
The AI used in Outcast was considered revolutionary at the time it was released. It was based on a proprietary engine codenamed GAIA, for Game Artificial Intelligence with Agents, which was composed by a set of C++ libraries that provided sophisticated control of game characters based on research in distributed AI. Intelligence is represented as a distributed activity over a set of autonomous routines called agents. An agent uses skills, such as hearing, sight, acrobatic, to complete assigned tasks. These agents can interact and even compete with each other to realize a complex task.
Outcast features a high-quality orchestral score composed by Lennie Moore and performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and choir. At the time of Outcast's release, orchestral game scores were uncommon, and Moore's achievement was hailed as "absolutely top-notch". The game's publisher Infogrames released the hour-long score on a soundtrack album and it was later made available for MP3 download on the game's official website. Anyone who owns the original game can listen to the soundtrack by putting disc 2 into a CD player.
A Dreamcast port of the original was also planned, but was shelved when the Windows version failed commercially.
For more details, check Franck Sauer's website:
FROM FAT PIXELS TO TINY TRIANGLES
27 YEARS OF GAMES CONTENT BY FRANCK SAUER
A sequel, Outcast II was originally being developed for the PlayStation 2. During development, the company Appeal went bankrupt and development ceased. Appeal had been requesting funds from their publisher to help finish the game for release but this was not granted.
The Eternal Outcasts are developing a free sequel called Open Outcast as a Crysis Wars mod. The project initially used theGothic and later the Crystal Space 3D engines but has now made the step to the CryEngine 2. The project already released two techdemos (Oasis 1.0 & 1.1) which can be played together with the Crysis Wars Demo version.
On July 3, 2013 it was reported Yann Robert, Franck Sauer and Yves Grolet of Belgian developer Appeal had acquired the IPfrom Atari with the intention to revive the franchise.
On April 7, 2014, a Kickstarter campaign was launched, by the original development team, for a HD remake of Outcast. The campaign failed to reach its funding goal.
On December 18, 2014, Outcast was re-released on Steam as Outcast 1.1, recompiled from the original source code with improved stability and with most well-known bugs removed.
Outcast's community is most certainly one of the game's strongest points. So, here are a (very) few contributions we loved. :)