Untitled GameSpot Interview
Published: 7 March 2002
Host: GameSpot Australia
Interviewer: GameSpot Australia
Untitled GameSpot Interview
Game developers Oddworld Inhabitants are the masterminds behind Munch’s Oddysee, the game that is storming the world of adventure games as the Xbox is released worldwide. This title is the third installment in the world of the environment‐loving Mudoken, Abe and his exploited friends. It is also the first title in the series to step into the realm of 3D rendering. We spoke to individuals who worked on this title only eight days before the Australian launch of the Xbox.
A variety of developers from the Oddworld Inhabitants team contributed to this interview. These personalities include:
- Lorne Lanning — President/Creative Director
- Charles Bloom — Senior Programmer
- Scott Easley — Senior Animator
- Rob Brown — Art Director, Interactive
GameSpot Australia: Oddworld Inhabitants, thanks for taking the time out to talk with GameSpot Australia! Firstly, considering the subject matter that the Oddworld series explores, would it be fair to say that there are one or two environmentalists in the Oddworld Inhabitants studio?
Lorne Lanning: Absolutely! Not that we are part of any specific group, but more that we’re simply aware of the environment as a precious ecosystem that we’re integrally tied to.
GameSpot Australia: Do you ever think of the games you work on playing an educative role in society? Do you think this is important?
Scott Easley: If people spend any amount of time doing something—watching TV or films, reading, or playing video games, then you’re going to be influenced by it. The degree is arguable, but it would be irresponsible to claim it doesn’t affect the audience. Our heroes aren’t rewarded for being the strongest, or most powerful, but in some situations by being craftier than their enemies. Video games are a release, but they also allow us to subtly remind people that your own actions come back to you. A lot of games allow you carte blanche to run on a rampant spree without repercussions to the character. Escapism is fine. But why not have a game that entertains as well as allows you to utilize skills other than aggression? Hopefully, we’ve done a bit of that.
GameSpot Australia: On Munch’s Oddysee, the launch title for Microsoft Xbox, what were your technological goals? Was there anything that didn’t quite make it into the game?
Rob Brown: Through the course of the project we often found ourselves in new and exciting technological and artistic territory. Unfortunately, at a certain point new ideas sometimes just don’t fit into the schedule.
GameSpot Australia: When you moved away from the Playstation 2, was that a painful step in terms of technology left behind?
Charles Bloom: Well, it certainly meant that a lot of work was done for the PS2 that wasn’t needed. On the other hand, going to the Xbox was such a pleasure that we were very happy to leave that work behind. We finished Munch a lot faster by switching to the Xbox than we could have if we stayed with the PS2.
GameSpot Australia: What would you say distinguishes the experience of developing for Xbox versus Playstation 2?
Rob Brown: I’m an artist. Even with my artist–math‐skills it’s not hard to tell there is a big difference between 32mb and 64mb. Especially when out of the 32mb there are only 4 for allowed for VRAM.
GameSpot Australia: Will Munch’s Oddysee remain exclusively on the Xbox for all time?
Scott Easley: For all‐time, that’s some commitment?! I can tell you that our next three titles will be found on the Xbox. But beyond that, Oddworld will just continue develop for whatever platform is best suited to show our world, and based on today’s technology that is the Xbox.
GameSpot Australia: Would you ever go multi‐format?
Lorne Lanning: We’ve been multi‐format in the past (PSX–PC) and it’s possible that we’d do it again. But for the next three titles it’s strictly the Xbox for us.
GameSpot Australia: Did the Xbox allow you more flexibility in terms of artificial intelligence?
Charles Bloom: Absolutely. The Xbox has the most powerful CPU of any new console, much faster than the PS2 or GameCube; now I’m not talking about the graphics here at all, I’m just talking about the core brain of the Machine which does general‐purpose logic. It’s the CPU that’s needed for artificial intelligence, so the Xbox is perfect for AI‐intensive games like ours.
GameSpot Australia: Do you think the Oddworld Universe could be crafted into an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game?
Lorne Lanning: We’ve looked at doing this a few times. There’s no doubt about the OW universe being perfectly suited to RTS. The idea excites us, but we’re also looking at how RTS and Action Adventure can merge into a more singular genre.
GameSpot Australia: Are Oddworld Inhabitants still planning to create a Quintology of Oddworld games?
Scott Easley: Oh yes.
Rob Brown: We sure are.
GameSpot Australia: What technical advancements will you be able to make in future Oddworld titles on Xbox? Can you give us some examples?
Rob Brown: ‘Secrets!… You’ll not pry them from me…’
Oddworld Inhabitants, thanks for your time.