In 2007 a very old friend of mine turned me onto a game called The Ship
. Developed by Outerlight, it combined elements of The Sims
, and Quake
. Originally developed as a mod for the popular online FPS Quake, it took a back seat to frantic violence that the series was known for and opted instead for a suspicious and slower paced "murder mystery" experience; and a retail version was released on the Source engine in 2006. Players aboard the ship were each given a quarry, an individual who they needed to track down and murder for money and points, and all the while, a different player had you as your quarry, so you'd always have to watch your back. As an added element of complication, each player had to tend to various needs, much like in The Sims
, which would force the player into a few seconds of complete vulnerability, and I can say first hand that many quarries were shot stabbed or poisoned while sitting helpless on the can, or fast asleep in their beds. Set in a 1920's aesthetic, this goofy game quickly became a regular player in one of the hardest times of my life. My father was diagnosed with Cancer when I was 15 and passed away a week before my 17th birthday, and that summer was the time when I discovered this wonderful experience. Being able to come home from the hospital and set sail on this wacky voyage was the perfect escape for me, and being able to play with a few friends who I rarely got to see otherwise helped too.
Unfortunately the game was a retail flop and Outerlight hit hard times. The small Scottish development team had a second chance however when it announced a spiritual successor Bloody Good Time
, backed by Ubisoft and released in August 2010 on Steam and XBLA.
The game was very much similar to the first, each player given a quarry, certain weapons are worth more per murder, players needed to tend to their needs, but the 1920s atmosphere and class were gone and replaced with higher resolution graphics and a goofy cast of B-Movie players, all under the cameras of the enigmatic director across various movie sets. The added gameplay elements and cartooney visuals made this an instant buy for an old fan like myself.
But what is the point of all this rambling? Firstly to talk about a game that I love and hold very dear to me, but also to shed some light on their tragic tale.
With Bloody Good Time
being a flop and the only hope of recovery from the retail woes of The Ship
, Outerlight was forced to shut down. This modder-turned-pro team of 12 has been dissolved entirely, save for it's founding member, Chris Peck, who works alone and unpaid to try to salvage something to keep Outerlight alive. It appears to be a fools' errand due to their website being shut down, their offices emptied, and his team disbanded, and chances are that he'll eventually have to let it go, provided he hasn't done so already.
How I came about this whole story was my desire to play The Ship
again after having a thought session about my Father. I searched online trying to find some sort of group of people who play regularly, as this game did have a small but dedicated cult following. Alas with empty servers and no forum or online group to be found, I felt my heart sink a little. After not being able to find their website (although there are archives here
) I came across their Wikipedia
page, which told of their unfortunately demise.
I merely wanted to give Outerlight one last hurrah, and let all those who loved and played their games before know the full story, and maybe, just maybe, I could have helped support Peck in his struggle, even if it's a nod and tip of the cap. Great work lads, I'll never forget your games and how they personally helped me in my toughest time, when all I needed to do was set sail from this world and crack open a skull.
tl;dr Anyone want to play The Ship
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