Outpost is a realistic simulation of what it will take to build a self-contained colony on a hostile planetary surface. This strategy game is based on current NASA research, and is designed by former NASA-Ames Research Center Systems Manager Bruce Balfour. Balfour also designed the award-winning Neuromancer, and Sierra On-Line's The Dagger of Amon Ra.

You must rescue humanity from certain doom, choose a new planet from a galaxy of possibilities, and establish a colony on the planet's surface. This colony will be the final outpost of humanity, and your competence as the leader of this outpost will determine whether or not our species will survive.

The colony must be managed as though it were any other city on Earth: short-term goals include continuing the building program, keeping the rabble employed and happy, exploiting planetary resources, recycling waste, and dealing with random events such as meteorite strikes. Eventually you may want to pursue long-term goals such as advancing the civilization, researching new technologies, establishing terraforming operations, and establishing trade between colonies. How you proceed in pursuit of your self-established objects is up to you; you're in command.

Outpost is based on fact, but it's also a game, which means that there are bits of humor and the occasional dramatized event for your amusement. A reasonable amount of scientific progress over the next 50 years is also assumed. However, the underlying model, the technologies, and the science have been extensively researched. Planet types are all based on planets in our very own solar system; they're not exactly the same, but they're similar.

The model used in Outpost is one of a complex system in the real world, so poking the model in one spot will have an effect on everything else. Events will invariably occur that you can't anticipate, and no two games will be exactly the same. Keep in mind that Outpost is a strategy game, and is not played in real time. You can take a half a moment or a week and ahalf to make your move, so feel free to think about it.

When you arrive at your planet of choice, you'll find an icon on the bottom right of the screen. You will left click on this icon, a planet with an orbiting moon, when you want Outpost time to advance one unit. Time advancement will allow mines to be excavated, food to be harvested, roads to be built, factories to be constructed, and other types of progress to be made. Time advancement also furthers plagues, natural disasters, and the decay of your man-made resources; what's more, morale will drop if your population feels that progress isn't being made quickly enough. Advance a turn only when you've done all you can during the current move.

It is the early part of the 21st century. Government funding of NASA has continued to shrink since the 1990's, leaving the space program in the hands of a few multinational conglomerates. Now it appears to there's a slight problem, and it's hurling toward Earth.

An enormous asteroid, which the media dubs Vulcan's Hammer after an old science fiction novel, is a headed right for us, with an excellent chance of striking the planet with a billion megatons worth of destruction. Only one company responds to the threat by building a colonization starship. The starship is assembled in Earth orbit, and is then fueled from the atmosphere of Jupiter. By the time fueling has begun, pandemonium reigns on our home planet, but by then it's too late to build another starship. Utter destruction of Earth means two things: that yours is the last bastion of humanity, and that you can't turn to other survivors for assistance if your colony falters. There aren't any other survivors.

Your colonist population is limited to 200 people, most of whom have the skills required to rebuild civilization. You'll be asleep for most of the 50-year trip to your destination of choice; while you nap, any probes you may have sent ahead of the starship will start sending back data when they arrive at your target star system. You'll evaluate the data to select the appropriate planet for your colony.

When you land, a certain element of the population feels that your leadership is lacking, and they abscond with up to half of your colonists and resources to start a rebel colony. You'd like to deal with it, but you're too busy trying to survive. Hostile planets have dust storms, meteorite strikes, and numerous other hazards which can nail you when you aren't looking, not to mention the day-to-day business of just trying to eat and breath. In the meantime, the rank and file are watching your every move to see what kind of leader you are. When you screw up, morale goes down. When morale goes down enough, colonists begin leaving for the rebel colony. So don't screw up.

That's the situation you find yourself in at the beginning of the game. You'll find more interesting facts and fascinating details in the chapter entitled “How to Play.”

Everything you ever wanted to know about installing Outpost and saving games is explained on the installation card enclosed in this box.

Since it is modeled on a complex system, Outpost must be experienced to be understood. Nevertheless, you'll need fundamental information in order to know what's expected of you, and this manual is our attempt to provide you with this information in orderly fashion.

The “How to Play” chapter is separated into basic needs and higher-order needs, organized in alphabetical order where appropriate. The “Strategies” chapter addresses the different ways to define victory. (As with most things in Outpost, what constitutes a victory is determined by the player.) In the Appendix you will find a Glossary and a Bibliography; helpful charts and tables are interspersed throughout the manual.

So, Commander, now you have everything you need to determine the fate of humanity. Sit back, relax, take the helm, and pray that fate is kind.

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