Oddworld: The Hand of Odd

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Oddworld: The Hand of Odd is an upcoming Oddworld videogame due for release in 2012.[1] It will be developed by Just Add Water, who is considering iPad, Android tablets, Facebook, PC and Mac as platforms,[2] although JAW claims they never mentioned Facebook.[3]

Production first began at Oddworld Inhabitants as early as 1998, and the game was announced at E3 1999 but was quietly shelved as focus shifted to Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. The revival of the title was announced by Stewart Gilray at GameCityNights in April 2011, with production estimated to resume in July or August.

Gameplay

Hand of Odd was originally going to be a real-time strategy game that pitted Oddworld’s eco-extremist ‘Tree Huggers’ against the greedy capitalist ‘Land Muggers’ (described as ‘Exxon vs. Greenpeace), with the player able to choose which side to play as.[4][5][6]:14 By taking the world chemistry of Munch’s Oddysee, including its environmental manipulation, character lifecycles, behavioural simulation and social interaction models, and add support for multiplayer.[7]:1, 18

Players would control the master character of one of three different races (never identified, but two were probably Mudokons and Glukkons), who would in turn use GameSpeak to manipulate hundreds of characters into reshaping the world.[4][6]:13 Players would build their own communities comprising estates, franchises, communes and investments,[6]:8, 12 then interact with other players’ developments aggressively, cooperatively, or not at all.[4] Oddworld Inhabitants were also hoping to allow players to leave the game running and let their communities grow on their own.[4]

Nativees and industrialists would compete for common environmental resources, but use them in different ways. While the Tree Huggers would grow the world and channel its living benefits, the Land Muggers would acquire resources unsustainably, deplete the world of materials and stunt growth by everyone. The balance between the two opposing forces would ensure a perpetual chemistry.[8]

After announcing the game’s revival, Stewart Gilray commented that the game will be less of a hardcore RTS ‘Command & Conquer clone’, and more of a casual game. However, ‘it will be respectful of the original design’ and retain its core mechanics of growing communities and managing environments.[9]

But what we are going to walk away from is left clicking your mouse and dragging big boxes to grab 200 units of Mudokons and say, “Kill!”, because unless you’re Starcraft that just doesn’t work any more. Lorne and I have talked about this at length.[9]

Production

Production on Hand of Odd began alongside Munch’s Oddysee[6]:11 in late 1998[6]:1 with the plan of using the A.L.I.V.E. 2 engine to power both games. A four-inch thick design document containing concept art, gameplay mechanics and sample code was put together in 1998, described by Stewart Gilray as the most intese design document he’d seen in 22 years in the videogame industry.[10]

Oddworld: The Hand of Odd was announced at E3 in May 1999,[11][12] with news quickly being posted on the Oddworld Inhabitants website[13] and Next-Generation Online.[5] Its release was expected to be six to nine months after that of Munch,[6]:11 which was then hoped to launch simultaneously with the PlayStation 2 in the US and Europe.[7]:19

By the end of 2000, when Oddworld Inhabitants were being very outspoken about their issues with the PlayStation 2, Lorne Lanning had decided that, because a solid infrastructure for online console gaming had yet to emerge, Hand of Odd would remain in pre-production while the studio focused on Munch’s Oddysee and its immediate sequel, Oddworld: Munch’s Exoddus.[14]:9 However, after the release of a few unsuccessful RTS titles by big publishers, Oddworld Inhabitants were unable to find funding for Hand of Odd.[8] It was confirmed in June 2003 that Oddworld Inhabitants were producing the as-yet-unnamed Stranger’s Wrath instead of Munch’s Exoddus,[15] with an update to the official FAQ the next year stating that Hand of Odd was not in production.[16]

During the period of Oddworld Inhabitants’ downtime from the videogame industry, Lanning commented that he might return to the idea of Oddworld: The Hand of Odd if the right opportunity presented itself.[17][8]

References

  1. Gilray, Stewart (28 April 2011). Interview by Glenn Percival, Joel Sherfinski and Josh Langford. ‘The End Is… Odd?’. Episode 213 of PSNation Podcast. PSNation Podcast.
  2. Yin-Poole, Wesley (29 April 2011). ‘JAW revives Oddworld: Hand of Odd’. Eurogamer.
  3. Just Add Water (29 April 2011). ‘@w_e_sayers no, we did not mention Facebook.’. Twitter.
  4. a b c d Alf (?). ‘Dear Alf 01’, question 2. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Oddworld Inhabitants website. Archived by Oddworld Library (?).
  5. a b Next-Generation Online (14 May 1999). ‘Oddworld Inhabitants Talks PlayStation 2’. Next-Generation Online. Imagine Publishing: Brisbane, California. Archived by the Wayback Machine (13 November 1999).
  6. a b c d e f Lanning, Lorne (1 October 1999). ‘An Interview With Oddworld Inhabitants’ by Ivan Trembow. Master Gamer.
  7. a b Lannning, Lorne (25 October 1999). ‘Twenty Q’s with Munch’s Oddysee Producer’. GameFan. Archived by the Wayback Machine (25 April 2000).
  8. a b c Lanning, Lorne (6 October 2009). ‘Oddworld Inhabitant: An Interview with Lorne Lanning’ by Toby Davis, question 5. Bitmob. Bitmob Media.
  9. a b Gilray, Stewart (29 April 2011). ‘Oddworld is back! Hand of Odd for 2012 and Squeek’s Oddysee also lined up’, interview by Rich Keith. Made2Game.
  10. Gilray, Stewart (28 April 2011). Presentation. GameCityNights Season 2, Episode 4. Nottingham, UK.
  11. Oddworld Inhabitants (13 May 1999). Pamphlet distributed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 1999. Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California.
  12. Electronic Entertainment Expo (12 May 1999). E3 1999 Directory. Scan by Marino (2 July 1999). Giant Bomb.
  13. Oddworld Inhabitants (May 1999?). ‘Hand of Odd’. Oddworld Inhabitants website. Archived by the Wayback Machine (5 March 2000) and Oddworld Scriptures (17 August 2008).
  14. Lanning, Lorne (11 October 2000). ‘Interview With Oddworld Inhabitants’ by Ivan Trembow. Master Gamer.
  15. Boulding, Aaron (17 June 2003). ‘Introducing Steef’. IGN.
  16. Oddworld Inhabitants (June 2004). Update to ‘The Most Frequently Asked Questions’. Alf’s Rehab and Tea. Oddworld Inhabitants Website. Archived by the Wayback Machine (7 August 2004).
  17. Lanning, Lorne (September 2007). ‘Отступники. Интервью с Лорном Леннингом, главой Oddworld Inhabitants’, interview by Игорь Варнавский and Михаил Новиков, question 6. Игромания 9: 120. Издательский дом “ТехноМир”. Archived by the Wayback Machine (11 October 2007).