Oct 222013
 

Edge published an article in their new series “Lost” covering the inception and ultimate halt of two Oddworld Inhabitants projects that never made it into production: Hand of Odd and Citizen Siege.
“The Hand of Odd was aiming to have an industrial class that followed the prevailing RTS paradigm, but while competing against an opposition indigenous class that harnessed its power not from the depletion of the environment, but from nurturing its growth, then harnessing its life force as a means to power an offense/defense system. Metaphorically speaking, a classic war zone that allows a Rupert Sheldrake vs Richard Dawkins war of ideologies.”

“Citizen Siege was based in a near future where the policies of recent White House administrations continued onward unabated; ultimately landing us in a dark totalitarian landscape where people have been reduced to pure commodity. In this world, your healthy tissue is used as collateral against financial debt, and if you sink low enough, you can be ‘re-possessed’ piece by piece.”

Read the full article and look at some new never-before seen concept art for both properties at Edge-Online.
Jun 102013
 
Official Xbox Magazine UK visited Just Add Water to talk about the studio’s plans for the future of Oddworld. Apparently action will be taking center-stage, as the studio is still deciding between making a Stranger’s Wrath sequel or The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klott for their next project after New ‘n’ Tasty.
The studio is already working on converting the Stranger engine into something modern and optimized for multiplatform use – no small task, considering the original engine was built only with the Xbox in mind and took no small effort to port to PC and PS3.
Strengthening the argument for Stranger 2 is Gilray’s revelation that a detailed premise for the hypothetical sequel has already been laid out by Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning:
Lorne and I spoke about it five, six months ago and nothing happened. And then in November we all said ‘what’s this Stranger’s Wrath 2 idea you had?’ and he sent me an email about a mile long and I’m like ‘oh my god!’ So I’ve read bits of it, he’s got a whole premise out for Stranger 2, and it is something we have considered doing.
As for new content, JAW are keeping quiet for now, but hint that Live Ammo types cut from the original game may make a comeback.
For Fangus, we know that the basic premise—cats vs dogs—has already been set out, and the team are already sitting on character models from the original Inhabitants’ work, but as with the Stranger engine anything made for Fangus was only ever built with the original Xbox in mind, so lot of work would still be needed to build the game.
JAW also shared a selection of concept art for Fangus, some of which has not been revealed before.
Some other tidbits of information revealed by the interview include the fact that Stranger’s Wrath was originally conceived as a sequel to Munch’s Oddysee, and in fact an early build of the game has Stranger and Munch occupying the same in-game environment; and apparently, there were also some early plans for “Abe karting” games, although the team at JAW isn’t too keen on taking these any further.
Apr 122012
 
A teaser website for Oddworld: Hand of Odd has been put online. According to the page footer, the website was created by Just Add Water. A Whois search confirms that the domain name was registered by someone working at JAW. The page is currently light on content, featuring only the Hand of Odd logo and some copyright information.
Oct 012011
 
Following on from yesterday’s hands-on Stranger’s Wrath HD preview, The GameFreak Blog today posted an exclusive interview with Stewart Gilray, CEO of Just Add Water. The interview covers a huge array of Oddworld-related topics, ranging from discussion of the work being done on the Stranger’s Wrath HD remake to speculation on the future of the franchise and the Oddworld universe. The first section of the interview covers the work done on Stranger’s Wrath HD. Gilray details some of the changes made, including changing the resolution and the HUD, the processing power of an Xbox compared to modern gaming platforms, and the ultimate goal of getting the game running at a constant 60 frames per second. He also notes that there are very few bugs left to fix, and that the game “should be done in 3 weeks”, at which point the team will move onto development for Abe HD. Another point of interest is when Gilray describes his relationship with Lorne and Sherry. “I spent 3-4 days with them last year at their house in Berkeley and I came away from that with the feeling that, well, that they felt, knew, the game and the brand were in the right hands,” he says.He then goes on to discuss possible future projects, mentioning that both himself and Lanning want to see the Quintology finished, and that Squeak has been discussed. Overall, it seems as though the relationship between JAW and Oddworld is looking good. The discussion briefly touches on Abe HD, with Gilray mentioning how the source material will be respected:
we’re not 100% what we’re going to be doing with it yet, all we done know is that we are starting from scratch, in some respects, We’re not just taking Oddysee and making it higher res, the backdrops are now going to be full 3D environments, but the gameplay is still going to be 100% 2-dimensional. It’s going to be the game that Abe was originally, same sound, it’s going to look the same but more. So like, the environments will be living, not just like in the old games where you had an occasional background animation of a barrel going by or whatever.
A question about the negotiations with Microsoft reveals two things: firstly, that the main barrier appears to be Microsoft being unwilling to “commit” to a deal; and secondly, that the JAW team will happily publish on any gaming platforms: “Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Vita….and maybe Mac, other platforms” is the tentative line-up given for Abe HD. Speaking of future projects:
  • The Stranger engine will be reworked into a multiplatform game engine, and will possibly be used “to do one or two different games which we have not talked about yet in the Oddworld universe”.
  • Hand of Odd is briefly discussed, with Gilray dropping some clues that the game’s original design documents are being adapted to work in a modern gaming industry; differences in input devices is highlighted as a major consideration.
The interview is rounded off with Ferrol and Gilray talking about the Oddworld universe as a whole, particularly the sheer size of the world Oddworld Inhabitants have created and the potential scope of future stories set in that world.
SG- Yes. There’s a timeline of Oddworld document that covers around 2-3 thousand years of Oddworld time, and the games so far have covered two, maybe three hundred years, so you know, there’s around two and a half thousand years left to explore… GFB- Kind of like the Old Republic and then the Star Wars films, Middle earth…. SG- Yeah, you know…you play Strangers Wrath and you get to later on in the game, the Mungo Valley area, and there are roads there that have been demolished…where did they come from? All that kind of stuff, so you have to think, the Strangers Wrath version of Oddworld is like the second age effectively, in some respects. And again, Oddworld is an entire planet. The games so far have been based in two different parts of one continent of that planet, so there are other continents on Oddworld, other civilisations and stuff, there is stuff designed and written down, other characters created I mean, we found a document the other day that had, they aimed to have 300 different species. When Strangers Wrath came out they had a list of forty five species, Hand of Odd was ninety five species, so we have all of these species, well, not all of them, but most already designed and written. Yeah, you have Slogs, Slegs, Sligs, Baby slogs, so that’s four species there straight off. It’s all there! It’s this massive wonderful universe to work within. Some might say it doesn’t leave a lot of room to be creative, but I say that it’s easier to start off with a chessboard and design new pieces, than to start off with a blank board and have to design a game from the start. So yes, we have a whole universe that we get to play in.
If your appetite for Oddworld news isn’t fully satiated by these highlights, you can read the full interview over on The GameFreak Blog.
Apr 292011
 
Stewart Gilray made a number of project announcements at Season 2, Episode 4 of GameCityNights last night, where he spoke about his history in the industry and his thoughts on formal videogame education and qualifications. Lorne Lanning spoke to attendees through the medium of Skype, summarizing the last few years of Oddworld and answering questions from the audience. OddBlog was present for the whole evening, which you can relive through its live tweeting. Gilray made four main announcements.
  1. Because of the time spent fixing bugs present in the Oddboxx’s original release, the release of Stranger’s Wrath HD has been pushed back until the summer. A small number of higher-resolution characters were showcased, but the delay has allowed Just Add Water to include additional features, such as support for PlayStation Move, 3DTV and automatic uploading of gameplay recordings to YouTube. A mysterious ‘Feature X’ was assured, although its reveal had to be censored last-minute. It is ten letters long, starting and ending with ‘s’. In addition, the game’s menus and HUD have been redesigned to more closely match Lorne’s original sketches for them.

  2. Munch’s Oddysee is also being given a HD treatment, with a number of higher-definition characters showcased at GameCityNights. Set to hit the PlayStation Network in October or November this year, this rerelease of MO will bring all four Oddworld titles to simultaneous availability on consoles, specifically the PlayStation 3. That being the case…

  3. The Oddboxx will be coming out on the PlayStation Network. Just like the PC equivalent, it will feature all four Oddworld games, including the HD remasters of Stranger’s Wrath and Munch’s Oddysee, at the same low price!

  4. Perhaps the most exciting announcement is the reveal of Oddworld: The Hand of Odd as a new title for release on platforms to be determined, although Eurogamer reports they are looking at iPad, Android tablets, Facebook, PC and Mac.

    Wielding a large bound copy of the game’s original design documentation (circa 1998), Gilray explained that the modern gaming landscape has encouraged them to imagine Hand of Odd less as a Command & Conquer-style Real-Time Strategy and more like Zynga’s brand of social games.

OddBlog will be publishing its own interview with Stewart Gilray in the coming days, to follow up on last night’s announcements and chase all the latest news from the re-emerging field of Oddworld videogame development.
Apr 142011
 
GameCity has today announced details of the next GameCityNights, the monthly after-dark exploration into videogames culture. Taking place in Nottingham on 28 April 2011, Season 2 Episode 4 will host Lorne Lanning and Stewart Gilray as they talk about bringing Oddworld back and developing Stranger’s Wrath HD. Just Add Water has confirmed on Twitter they will also be announcing a new Oddworld title. Widely regarded as the best-looking game to grace the Xbox, fans of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath can rejoice that the long overdue update is complete and will be unveiled at Episode 4 of GameCityNights by Stewart Gilray, Managing Director of Just Add Water, the team responsible for reinvigorating the latest Oddworld title. From 6pm, Gilray will deliver this month’s Frontend section, delving into the life of a studio head, from his early beginnings to the daily challenge of leading a team of talented developers, and reassuring a vociferous fan base their beloved franchise is in safe hands. The main event of the evening follows at 8pm as Gilray presents the moment fans have been waiting more than six years for: Stranger’s Wrath with updated and remastered HD visuals and audio. Charting the process of adding shiny bells and whistles to an already brilliant looking game, fans will see the progression from start to finish. In a distinctly Orwellian moment, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning will be the eye-in-the-sky as he casts a glance over his original creation as this month’s ‘From the Desk of’ guest, as well as discussing the series’ past, present and future. GameCity Director Iain Simons said, “Lorne headlined the first ever GameCity festival back in 2006, so it’s great to be welcoming him back. We look forward to hearing his views on the updated Stranger, learning about the weather in Berkeley and sharing in his anticipation of the forthcoming Union of Kate Middleton and Prince William, staunch royalist that he is.” As ever, GameCityNights will also feature the very best indie developers showcasing their work alongside the latest AAA titles, comedian Paul Butler’s Augmented Vision, A Winner Is You prize competition with generous contributions from Capcom and Square Enix, an impassioned My Game appearance and a well-stocked bar to round out the night. GameCityNights take place every month at Antenna in Nottingham, Beck Street, NG1 1EQ. Entry is strictly 18+ only, tickets £5 in advance and for students, £6 on the door for the general public. Due to limited capacity, pre-booking via GameCityNights’ website is advised. There is a Facebook Event. OddBlog will be present on the evening to cover information and happening as they develop. We will also be bringing you an exclusive interview with Stewart Gilray following the event.