"Now you must decide how many people you wish to save from death, and what supplies will be required to support them. Any mistake at this point will doom you and your colonists to certain death. Have a nice day."
These were the words that haunted my childhood. Not really, but it sounds like a good opener. This line, spoken by your sexy female AI (is there any other kind?) is the line that introduces you to challenge and choice that comes from playing Outpost.
Outpost, a game produced and released around 1998, is a turn based (that is, similar to chess) strategy game wherein you manage and grow an extrasolar colony from fledgling dome to colossal, sprawling dome city (which is to say, not similar to chess at all.)
It was one of the games that I played as a child growing up, which explains a lot. It was also balls to the wall sadistically hard. How hard? Well, let me count the ways.
If you did not mine enough materials, you died.
If you did not mine the right KINDS of materials, you died.
If you didn't smelt the materials you mined fast enough, you died.
If you didn't grow enough food, you died.
If you couldn't grow food due to the thick clouds over your planet, you died.
If you packed a solar power plant and the planet that you had colonized was 9 AU from the sun, you died.
If you didn't pack a solar power plant and your fusion power plant exploded, you died.
If you didn't make your colonists happy enough, they defected away from your colony to the DAMN DIRTY REBEL COLONY.
...and then you died.
But here's the kicker.
If you made your colonists extremely happy, made huge scientific breakthroughs, and ushered in a new era of peace, prosperity and good vibes...then you still died. Why? Because the aforementioned damn dirty rebel colony would collectively come to the conclusion that your leadership was so damn awesome that they would vote with their feet and trek from the rebel colony to your colony.
And then you'd find your residential units packed to 300% capacity, while rebel babies ate up spaces in schools for loyalist children, and rebels breathed your air, ate your foot, and drove up the costs of living for everyone.
Before you know it, you'd have a massive food gap and everyone starves to death and...yes, you guessed it!
Good thing if you pushed Control, F-4, your planet explodes.
There's no plausible scientific explanation for this.
But sometimes, it feels really satisfying.
And now you know part of how I ended up this way!