Published: 2 May 2002
This interview with GamesRadar doesn’t appear to be online any longer, and we can’t find it using the Internet Archive. If you manage to find a copy online, please contact us. The date of publication quoted is the date Xavier first archived the interview.
Oddworld head honcho Lorne Lanning reveals why Oddworld is signed exclusively to Xbox for another three games
Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning has spoken to GamesRadar about the future of the series—and has revealed that Oddworld is signed exclusively to Xbox for another three games. ‘They’ll also be within the Oddworld universe but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be about Munch,’ he says. ‘We’re planning on rebuilding a whole fresh engine that optimises Xbox. I think Munch’s Oddysee only uses about 50% of what Xbox is capable of and image quality we maybe tapped about 20% of what’s there.’
While Munch’s Oddysee was originally planned for PS2, Lanning says they decided to make the move to Xbox as ‘we were just very dissatisfied with the structural architecture and the final image quality [on PS2] and we had hoped that it would have been something that we didn’t end up seeing it being. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t think that great games wouldn’t be created on PS2, it just meant that we didn’t want to build them there because we saw the capacity of the machine would max out sooner than what we wanted to achieve in a 128‐bit era.
‘Microsoft talked to us early and said, “What if we make a games machine and if you had a choice of how you want a games machine to work?” We wanted more memory, cleaner structure, cleaner data flow, DVD, a single graphics chip… And so Microsoft went away and we continued working and then they came back and said that they were going to build this thing and call it Xbox. So it was a very easy switch when you look at it from a games development perspective because you ask yourself what system would you be supporting and building technology for over the next five years. And the way Microsoft was pushing Xbox was that it was really going to be fun in pushing and utilising the capacity of the machine.’
As much as the Oddworld series is about making the best games possible with existing hardware, it also ranks as a rarity among videogames in that there’s also a message behind it. ‘With Abe’s Oddysee I think that really stemmed from what was initially happening in the rainforests, which were being brought down by people essentially financed by fast food companies,’ explains Lanning. ‘And that in many ways helped in the beginning of Abe’s Oddysee—the third world labourer who works in horrific conditions for the corporation with big happy logos where things seem fine on the surface but that’s not the case when you see where it came from.’
‘In any sort of quality story or character development I think that the idea is that it provokes more interest about where it all comes from and what it’s about. So when people play and it makes them say, “Why would you ever design a character like Abe?” it’s what we’re trying to get people to say and ask themselves. And that starts leading to other places and, from that, more interest is sparked and you start looking deeper into the subtext of the world. I don’t look at it as if we are trying to create messages—I just look at is as trying to create quality storytelling.’
As for the next step in the Oddworld games and, indeed, console gaming in general, Lanning sees broadband as being pivotal. ‘The thing with Xbox is that it’s more prepared to take advantage of the net in a smarter type of way. Our interest online doesn’t really peak until we see we can have mics and voice so you can talk to the other players in realtime because we don’t want text‐driven communication. That’s going to be happening on Xbox. We’re going to start experimenting and taking baby steps—feeling our way through.’