Titan Outpost, our first RPG, is now available. Curious? Stick around.
What is Titan Outpost?
It is an RPG with survival, base building and adventure elements set on Titan, the 6th moon of Saturn. It is traditional, true to PnP roots and old-school in some ways, and innovative in others.
How does it work?
The dialogue and negotiation systems, the temperature-based survival aspects, the base construction and the world map all feature gameplay that is either completely unique or a combination of tried-and-true things that have never been tied together before in this way.
At the core is the game’s character system. Most RPGs focus on combat and combat related skills, but Titan Outpost is different. Your character sheet contains ‘science’, ‘construction’, ‘negotiation’, ‘exploration’ and ‘hacking’ skills, for example. You can gain experience points, level up and increase these skills like in any other RPG, but the way they affect what is happening in the game world is different.
You know how, when you talk to people in an RPG, it is always the same tree-based conversation? You ask a question, and the NPC gives you an answer. In Titan Outpost, you’ll feel right at home if you like this sort of thing, but whenever you start negotiating, it becomes more involved. You can interject with leverage, you can change the goal of your conversation, you can select pushy responses or backpedal and you can influence the dialogue in other ways. You can finally cover the flanks in a battle of words instead of always taking it head on with a couple of options.
Getting around on Titan is difficult. The average surface temperature is −179 °C (−290 °F), so you drive around in a heavily isolated and heated rover, and when you absolutely have to traverse anywhere on foot, you do so in a specialized suit. Time is the currency here: Every minute spent outside drains your suit's charge. Limited nutrition, your oxygen supply and other elements combine to provide a tense survival atmosphere.
You can expand the Outpost as you would in a base builder game, with resource management and a top-down interface. Your character skills partly determine how you can go about this. You can be a curious scientist, a savvy entrepreneur, a ruthless ecowarrior, a smooth-talking diplomat, a stoic engineer, an intrepid explorer or anything in between.
What is the setting?
It is hard retro-science fiction. If you’re familiar with ‘Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness’, it means that there is no faster-than-light travel, there is no technology that surpasses our own enough to be considered magic and everything is explained through in-universe physics. Of course, it’s still fiction and there is enough leeway for interesting concepts.
What’s retro about it? It’s based on sci-fi from the 1970’s, both visually and thematically. What if the oil crisis was as bad as they thought it was back then? The cold war antagonism has shifted to the Chinese, but the divide is very real. The game is set in 2077, a hundred years after this period. To us, it could almost be considered near-future. Some of the themes explored in the game are more relevant to us today than they ever were.
Humanity is in the midst of an energy crisis and the future of civilisation is in peril.
Your mission is a last-ditch effort at satiating your species’ ever-growing thirst for fuel. With unmitigated growth, environmental change was inevitable. Earth’s equator is slowly becoming a lifeless desert. Endless fields of solar arrays gave us some breathing room, but collective efforts at temperature regulation only compounded our energy problems. We colonized the moon in 2060 and the demand for energy only grew larger.
In crisis, people united. Europe, West-Russia, The United States, Japan and most South American countries united to form the International Autonomous Space Association. You work this supranational organisation.
A cold war has arisen between your employers and the economically powerful Chinese, who are working on colonising Mars and also have a presence in the Saturnian system. On frosty Titan, this war will literally be very cold indeed.
Harvest the moon’s abundant hydrocarbon resources and uncover its mysteries. Explore the orange moon, visit lakes of methane and establish a mining operation. The extremely cold climate will be your biggest enemy. Or will it?
So there is no violence in the game?
There is no combat system, but that doesn’t mean there is no violence. Exploring the ethics of a new frontier in extremely harsh conditions without any sort of physical violence would disingenuous.
Should I buy Titan Outpost?
If you want to try something new, by all means. If you like RPGs because of the combat? Probably not, although you might be surprised that waging battle without physical violence can be engaging, too.
In bullet points:
- You can join two major factions, and choose to ally yourself with three independent organisations.
- There are five completely distinct ways to end the game.
- 33 quests, a lot of them with multiple sub-quests. They're called missions to fit the theme, but we all know what they are.
- Continuous spherical world map lets you explore the entire moon with over 40 unique locations.
- A sprawling hard sci-fi plot-line with a cast of 23 characters. The story has a couple of branches and, depending on who you trust, 22 unreliable narrators. Rely on your character's hacking skill or your awareness and insight to reveal the truth.
- Expand your base by melting away water ice 'rock' and placing modular elements.
- Gather allies or hire employees to get up to 8 people to populate your base
- Multiple quest solutions and non-binary outcomes.
- Discrete time system, where every passing second determines unfolding events and the game world continues while your character sleeps.
- Logistical elements , think original Dune adventure meets the strategic layer of X-com.
- Full soundtrack, fully voiced dialogue.
- Realistic orbital system of Saturn for your astronomical pleasure.
This is where I would like to thank everyone who supported me these last three years. The testing crew, the cast, the people who put up with the long hours and most importantly, the community. Without your enthusiasm, I wouldn’t have made it this far.