About a year before LucasArts shut down, the iconic studio cancelled a near-finished game called Star Wars Outpost. Today, we've learned a bit more about that game.
Developed by LucasArts' Singapore studio — which at the time was also assisting on other games like Star Wars 1313 and even working on its own projects like an HD version of the adventure game Day of the Tentacle — Star Wars Outpost was planned for release on browsers and mobile platforms (iOS/Android). Although the game was never announced, it was nearly completed, according to several people who worked at LucasArts before it shut down in April of 2013.
I first reported on Outpost three years ago, when putting together our postmortem on the last years of LucasArts and how the studio was in decline long before Disney shut it down. Earlier this week, a tipster reached out with new details and art from the game, including the concept art above, which shows one of the eponymous outposts, a bustling city by the water. It also includes what would have been the game's logo as well as a host of familiar Star Wars characters, like R2D2 and Luke Skywalker.
The tipster said that despite the game's FarmVille-like appearance, Star Wars Outpost would have been heavy on strategy and inspired by the likes of Settlers of Catan and EVE Online.
Mockups like this one indicate that Outpost would have some sort of "bug your friend!" mechanic not unlike FarmVille and other Facebook games, which can be irritating. Those icons on the bottom would presumably represent the player's in-game friends. Icons like that yellow star are also reminiscent of the "casual" games that drive many hardcore gamers nuts.
But our tipster insisted that Star Wars Outpost would have actually been more complex than people assumed, calling it a "very hardcore game". Players would have been able to manage outposts, trade resources with other players and choose whether to support the Rebels or the Empire while building a variety of settlements, the tipster said. Players would have also been able to betray one another for resources, which is a tad different than FarmVille.
The above concept art shows some of the structures that were envisioned for Outpost, including various mines, shipyards and farms. Each of these ships and buildings could have appeared in an outpost, allowing the player to harvest resources and build weapons. The image also appears to show upgrade paths for several of these buildings. "It was a very deep game and always running like an MMO," the tipster said. "We wanted players to really invest a lot [of] time."
Players would have been able to seize control of outposts on various Star Wars planets including Tatooine, pictured in the concept art below:
This mockup, illustrating an outpost full of people and buildings, represents what a player's settlement in Star Wars Outpost might have looked like. The art is really cool, although the developers likely would have had to struggle against players' preconceived notions for what Facebook and mobile games can be. (If you're curious: the game would have indeed had microtransactions, the tipster said. "There was no pay to win," they added.)
Individual outposts would have been part of a larger struggle between the Rebels and the Empire, the tipster said. "Each side would control a balance of power where that side could start taking over the Galaxy. If your world was controlled by one of the sides, the supports gained bonuses to all their outputs."
Back in 2011 and 2012, one of the big themes at LucasArts was interconnectivity. Before company executives started cancelling projects like Outpost, they had a big plan to release multiple Star Wars games that were all connected in some way, according to several sources. Outpost, for example, would have been connected to the also unannounced (and cancelled) shooter Star Wars: First Assault, which was designed for Xbox 360 and PS3. Players would have been able to build weapons and ships in Outpost that would then be available in First Assault.
Right as they were getting ready to announce the game and launch a public beta, the tipster says the developers of Star Wars Outpost got a call: The game was cancelled. Some team members moved to other mobile games; others went on to help develop the ill-fated Star Wars 1313. Months later, they'd learn that Disney had made a deal to purchase Lucasfilm and LucasArts, and by April of 2013, the company was gone.