Theme Hospital In Space

Back in 2001 (yes, the date was an intentional pun), I worked for a company named Muckyfoot Productions, and we made a game called StarTopia. I joined the project about a year before it shipped (it had already been in development for about two years at that stage) and took over the graphics engine. It turned out to be a delightful game where you ran your own space station and built facilities, hired aliens and fought battles. Its template was very much a cross between Bullfrog's "Theme Hospital" and "Dungeon Keeper", since many of the people who worked on StarTopia previously worked on both those games, and indeed went on to make Lionhead's "The Movies".

Muckyfoot is now no more, and I have moved on to other places, but you can view various pages about StarTopia at the WayBack Machine's archive (June 10th 2003 is a fairly good date to start with).

There are also some good fan-sites out there, including what is probably the hub of them all - StarTopia Post and for discussion, the Eidos forums.

In October 2013, StarTopia was released on Steam! This is by far the best way to experience StarTopia, and it does use the latest official 1.01 patch. It's really good to see it available for more players.

I used to do a lot of support for StarTopia for newer graphics cards, but unfortunately for various reasons I can't compile the code any more, so I can't continue supporting the really fancy features (well, fancy for 2001, very dull by 2013 standards). The Steam version is currently the best thing for most people to run.

However, in 2004 I wanted to do some research into shadowbuffers - a way of rendering realistic shadows (see the GDC 2004 paper here). And while most shadowing techniques look fine in small demos, they have a habit of not working too well when people put them in real, working games. So I thought I should put them into a real game to prove they work. The game I knew best was StarTopia. And thus, a new StarTopia "patch" was born.

But as I say, the bit-rot has set in, and I can't even run it now, let alone compile a new version. We built StarTopia on libraries that were old even at the time, and making them work over a decade later is going to take more time than I have. So instead here's some pictures of the shadows in action.