Apr 042014
 
“Competitive multiplayer” isn’t the first thing which springs to mind when one thinks about Oddworld. However if Eurogamer’s interview with Lorne Lanning is any proof, it seems that the original Oddworld Inhabitants team once had plans to make just that.
The game, given the working title “Stranger Arena”, was built on the same engine used for the original Xbox version of Stranger’s Wrath, and that the work on the game had begun shortly after production for Stranger’s Wrath had finished.
As well as the engine, Arena also incorporated many of the same gameplay elements as its predecessor, with players having the ability to sprint around at high speeds in third person or taking careful aim in first person. Lanning claims that this style of gameplay stands in contrast with the current multiplayer shooter conventions, and may have had a huge impact on the development of the genre:

“I was looking for more strategy in how I want to play the character. Like if I’m dealing with people who are obviously tougher than me, then I want to be more clever. I don’t want to be losing just because they’re faster on the draw,” he said of a game about reptilian cowboys who are fast on the draw.

“You’re not going to beat them by being clever. You’re going to beat them by playing as many hours as they do,” Lanning said of other shooters, name-checking Halo and Call of Duty. Instead, he wanted a more strategic method of play more akin to a real-time strategy game.”

Of course, in light of the poor retail reception of Strange’s Wrath, it doesn’t take much guessing to work out why the game never came to be. Nor would it surprise anyone familiar with Oddworld who Lanning believes is responsible – he accuses publisher EA of not marketing the game, resulting in poor sales which ultimately led to the closure of the original Inhabitants studio.
Mar 252014
 
In an interview with VG247, Lorne Lanning declared that the upcoming New ‘n’ Tasty is “not a HD remake”, denouncing the term “HD remake” as it is currently used in the games industry on the grounds that it is usually used to describe older games being ported over and adjusted to work on new platforms.
In the interview, Lanning also had some harsh words for the industry’s publisher-developer system:
“Fuck that business. I don’t want to play with that business, because it was a losing business,” he lamented. “I just don’t want to go back and play the old [publisher] game. I’d rather not make games than go fucking be a slave for public companies who care more about their shareholders than they do about their customers.
The interview also covers Oddworld Inhabitants’ relationship with Sony; the studio’s willingness to ask fans what game they would like to see made; and the resurgence in popularity of 2D platformers.
Mar 182014
 
In an interview published today on Eurogamer, Lorne Lanning has announced that New ‘n’ Tasty will be sold for $30 (approximately £18 or €21). At the same time, Lanning also estimated that the game would need to sell around 250,000 copies for them to be able to fund their next project, a full remake of Abe’s Exoddus in the same style as New ‘n’ Tasty. But interestingly, he also said that selling 500,000 copies could enable them to produce a brand new Oddworld title as well – and it seems that game could be the previously-scrapped Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot.
Lanning was quite clear about his desire to make The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot, a project he’s resurrected to tinker with some more. “Over the last year and a half, I’ve designed Fangus extensively. And I would like to be able to move into Fangus as soon as a new IP in Oddworld,” Lanning explained. That being said, he noted that the studio has other ideas as well, so Fangus Klot is not guaranteed to be the next original Oddworld title if and when the studio gets enough capital for it.

The Oddworld team also seems interested in releasing expansion packs for New ‘n’ Tasty and the potential Exoddus remake, although no details were given on what such packs might contain.
The interviewer notes that Lanning is confident in his sales goals, thanks to the Oddworld games’ strong digital sales in recent years – notably, Stranger’s Wrath HD selling 600,000 copies (more than its original Xbox release) and the original Oddysee and Exoddus games together selling more than a million copies.
Oct 212013
 
In a recent interview with Polygon, Lorne Lanning talked about the obstacles larger game developers face when striving to inject their games with more meaningful content, who are prohibited by the current market push towards big budgeted games.
Marketing and sales departments that are focused on sizable returns for their huge product investments are less concerned with meaning and more concerned with sales results. So the least likely place we should expect to see more subtly influential, deeper content is from those products with the highest budgets and greatest focus on ‘must have massive audience consumption results.’
“When content is deeper and more meaningful, then you can still create highly digestible and widely consumable entertainment products. Or, you can make Britney Spears albums. The games industry has more Britney Spears-class content than Pink Floyd. We just always aimed to deliver more of the later.
Polygon

This analogy was echoed from earlier last month in DICE 2013 London, during Lanning’s presentation “Properties for the Apocalypse”.
Aug 272013
 
Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning is set to host a keynote at next month’s DICE Europe 2013 summit. The event, hosted in London from 24 – 25 September, features a lineup of various big names in the gaming industry, including 22 Cans’ Peter Molyneux, EA Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman, and Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli.
Lanning’s keynote, titled “Properties for the Apocalypse”, is described on the Oddworld.com blog as:
[taking] attendees on a journey across the macro intent of his studios historic design ambitions, their experiments in resonating with an increasingly disillusioned audience, why it’s a blessing that retail is dying, how increasingly fractured leisure time is changing the studios design focus, and why self-published indies have faith in embracing a new messiah model
The blogpost also mentions that the event will be streamed and will also be recorded, so don’t panic if you won’t be in London next month.
Jul 262013
 
Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat managed to grab a hold of Lorne Lanning at Siggraph 2013 for an interview:
Why Lorne Lanning went from triple-A games to indie — and loudly loves it

Topics covered include Lorne’s recent comments on Xbox One, future plans for Oddworld, larger involvement with the fan community, crowdfunding and much more.
Jun 112013
 
At yesterday’s E3 press conference, Sony announced on behalf of Oddworld Inhabitants that Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty would be making its debut on PlayStation 4. Lorne Lanning took to the stage along with other indie game developers, accompanied by new gameplay footage.
Oddworld Inhabitants have also published a selection of 1080p screenshots on their website, plus a full teaser trailer on their Youtube channel.
New ‘n’ Tasty was already confirmed for PS3, PSVita and PC at last year’s Eurogamer Expo – but tellingly,  there has yet to be an announcement that it will appear on Xbox One. Oddworld Inhabitants also confirmed on their website that the game would be coming to Mac OS X and Linux.
In a surprising announcement, New ‘n’ Tasty and Stranger’s Wrath HD will also be coming to Wii U, marking the first time a game developed by Oddworld Inhabitants will appear on a Nintendo console.
Apr 022013
 
At the start of February, The Electronic Playground invited Lorne Lanning to be a guest on their podcast Vic’s Basement to talk about Oddworld (Lorne’s section begins around the 4:25 mark).

When asked how he has endured in the industry for so long compared to other developers, Lanning explains that he first became interested in the industry because of the possibilities it held; and those possibilities still interest him even now.
 
At several points Lanning talks about how “Oddworld 2.0” (as he calls the franchise’s current incarnation) is approaching the market:
  • Lanning believes that digital shelf space is infinite, and is positive about digital distribution; sel-publishing means they don’t have to work with big publishers and make huge returns.
  • When designing games, Oddworld takes less of a direct “you are in the story” approach common to other games, and instead allows the player to sit back and watch the story while still allowing their influence to be felt.
  • Lanning talks about wanting to engage with audience more directly, saying he wants to “make our audience feel heard” and that Oddworld listens to its fans
  • There has been no advertising for digital rereleases, instead relying on guerrilla marketing and pre-existing brand visibility
Lanning also rides motorcycles, apparently. Interesting.
Mar 032013
 
Lorne Lanning and Stewart Gilray spoke to website All About the Games last month. The Q&A style interview features questions on past and present developments for the studio, as well as some questions (mostly fielded by Lanning) on the state of the games industry.
One interesting thing we noticed was the following comment:

AATG: Oddbox is a wonderful package of your games all wrapped up neatly on the Steam digital platform. Now Steam Bigscreen has launched, do you have any plans to patch in more controller options, as Xpadder seems the only solution for some of the games.

SG: Xpadder? Not sure what you need that for… do you mean the original Abe titles? We’re looking at something that might help in that area, but we’re not talking about it yet.

We’re not sure what this means, but it may be a little hint towards some future updates for the PC ports of Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus. Fingers crossed, anyway.
Feb 012013
 
Lorne Lanning was recently a special guest at EPDaily’s gaming podcast “Vic’s Basement”. 
There’s great discussions about the possibilities of the gaming medium, why gamers still love Oddworld, and what’s in store for the future. There’s even a hint towards a potential simultaneous release of the Abe’s Oddysee 3D remake “New n’ Tasty” with Sony’s next console.

Click here to listen!