A long time ago, before Disney's acquisition of Star Wars, LucasArts spent two years developing a "hardcore" strategy simulation for PC and mobile devices. And then it quietly cancelled the project, four weeks from completion.
This game was Star Wars Outpost, which was being built by a team of 30 working out of LucasArts' Singapore office.
Eurogamer obtained artwork and images from the game via a source close to the project, as well as the first details on how close Star Wars Outpost was to final release.
But first, some backstory.
Shortly before Disney bought LucasFilm, LucasArts canned a number of games as part of a new plan to refocus its efforts on more casual titles. Casualties of this cull included big budget adventure Star Wars 1313, Battlefront-style shooter Star Wars: First Assault and the Singapore team's Star Wars Outpost.
We were told Outpost was canned shortly before Disney's acquisition - at which point other Star Wars games were halted, too. But whoever pulled the plug - Disney itself or LucasArts, or a LucasArts preparing itself for takeover - the result was the same: Outpost was dead.
If you're thinking you've heard Outpost's name before, then you're right - reports on the canning of 1313 and First Assault mentioned this third game, although at the time it was only referenced in the vaguest of terms - and described as a Farmville clone.
"The previous leaks mentioned a social game that was supposed to be Star Wars' answer to Farmville," the tipster said. "This is absolutely wrong.
"The people who thought [Outpost was a] Farmville game were from the US office. They had no idea about this game either - except just a few key people. This was being made 100 per cent in Singapore."
At the time of its cancellation, Outpost was "about 90 per cent done".
"We were just looking for approval to start public beta testing. Instead we got a call they were going to kill the project."
Rather than a social game clone, Star Wars Outpost was designed to be a "very hardcore" experience. And despite the fact it might look like a game you'd find on Facebook, the title was canned because it was considered too niche.
"The best way to describe the game is if Star Wars met Settlers of Catan/EVE," said the source. "You would take control of an Outpost on a planet within [the Star Wars galaxy]. The land on the planet was finite and so were the resources, so you were forced to search out and find other players. You had choices to either work with them or betray them for their resources.
"You could then start supplying weapons/ships/tools etc. to either the Rebels or the Empire. Supporting each side would control a balance of power where that side could start taking over the Galaxy."
Nearby players who were allies would slowly become connected to you via networks of roads and trade routes. A world completely controlled by the Rebels or Empire would grant bonuses to the appropriately-aligned Outposts on it.
"It was a very deep game and always running like an MMO, we wanted players to really invest a lot in time," the source continued.
Outpost also had a working day/night cycle, and an overworld populated by characters who would wander around and interact with the settlements and other characters in it.
But despite its hardcore aspirations, LucasArts was building the game to be as accessible as possible - coded in HTML5 and playable via a browser.
"We did it in 3D but everything was hand painted by artists to make sure we had a nice art style."
There were deeper plans for Outpost, too. The game's original design was for it to connect with Star Wars: First Assault, and allow you to create weapons or ships for use in the shooter.
"We had the back-end working but not in-game," said the source. "Then the players from First Assault could buy those unique weapons and equipment. You could also send in dropship supplies to help a side during the fight."
All of which makes it more of a shame we'll never see Outpost. After the game's cancellation its team was moved on to casual mobile games ("which all got killed also right at the Disney purchase") while a few were shuffled onto the similarly-defunct Star Wars 1313. After two years of work, Outpost was dead.
We've asked LucasFilm for comment.
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