The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot

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Fangus Klot and his rabid flock

The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot is a cancelled video game that Oddworld Inhabitants started developing for Microsoft’s Xbox. It would have featured the same mix of first- and third-person action and combat as Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath, but with a more muscle-bound and human character wielding guns in a darker and more political setting.

Story

Fangus is enslaved as a pitfighter

In Fangus, various sapient races have evolved from felines and canines, the two cultures maintaining a deep mutual hatred. The inhabitants of Fangustan are a race of nomadic herders descended from bulldogs, but their lands are invaded by Vamps, the cat-like Mafia of another country. These feline Mafiosi build factories and refineries to produce hardcore catnip, forcing the native shepherds to work them.[1][2][3]

Amongst the shepherds is Fangus Klot, who is taken from his familiar forested hills and popberry fields[4] and enslaved for years as a pitfighter.[1][5] After many fights with increasingly powerful opponents, Fangus is pitted against a huge and rabid fighter who bites Fangus—​infecting him with rabies—​and destroys enough of the arena to allow Fangus to escape.[1] With the help of his rabid flock, Fangus must then free Fangustan before he succumbs to his rabies.[4][5][3]

Production history

The first area of Fangus built in Maya
Still from a Vamp animation
Fangus is revealed in April 2005

The game was going to use the Stranger engine, which Oddworld Inhabitants were very proud of and wanted maximise their use of,[1][2][6] to tell the story of an Inhabitant ‘so intense he makes Stranger look like Munch in terms of intensity’[7].

The story is inspired by documentaries about Russian forced labour camps in Siberia that grew into city-scale prisons.[3] Lorne Lanning and Raymond Swanland were interested in exploring an area of Oddworld ‘like where Eastern Europe meets Russia’[2] and drew on the timeless mythical rivalry between cats and dogs to create opposing races who harboured an unrelenting mutual hatred, like Palestine and Israel.[3] Fangustan was modelled on traditional Afghanistan, populated by nomadic herders, while the Vamps were inspired by the post-Soviet collapse of Russian intelligence services into a corrupt mafia.[3]

Production started on The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot, including concept art[8], level design,[9], music[10] and realtime animation (with over 100 animations outsourced to Alcazar Entertainment)[11][12], all with a more serious, intense and politically shocking tone in response to the current trend in the market.[3][13] Originally, Lanning had set the story on Oddworld, albeit different part of it (even giving it a title of a different ilk to past Oddworld games)[2], but keeping the setting on Oddworld, albeit a different part of it. However, having given the production team more control over the project, he saw that they shifted the design into something much more realistic and human[14] to make a more traditional shooter. Eventually Lanning lost interest, but let the game’s development continue on the proviso that it would not be set on Oddworld at all.[2][3]

The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot was announced in the April 2005 issue of Game Informer,[4] previewed for fans on the Oddworld Forums by member LawnChairFire, but receiving some suspicion that it was an April Fools’ joke.[15] Unfortunately, by the time the magazine had reached news stands Oddworld Inhabitants were already shutting down the game development studio.[16]

Lanning was having talks with EA Games about a sequel to Stranger’s Wrath the year before the game’s release,[17] but having seen that their retention of the Oddworld IP meant the publisher was unwilling to invest in the game’s marketing, OWI eventually settled on Majesco Entertainment to publish their next title. However, Majesco began witholding payments to coerce Oddworld Inhabitants into renegotiating their contract, a situation OWI were not willing to put up with.[2][3] Feeling that an original Xbox title with no Live play would not succeed at a time when press and gamer attention was focused on the Xbox 360[18], and receiving no more technical support from Microsoft,[1] Lanning and Sherry McKenna decided it was best to shelve the game and all future in-house game development. However, The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot remains a story Lanning would like to tell one day,[2] possibly to be completed by an external story-game developer and digitally distributed.[3]

References

  1. a b c d e Max the Mug (8 November 2006). ‘Meeting Lorne & Sherry’. OddBlog. The Oddworld Library.
  2. a b c d e f g Lanning, Lorne (16 April 2008). ‘Part 6: Fangus and Stranger’ of ‘Nate interviews Lorne Lanning’. Published by Max the Mug (22 August 2008). OddBlog. The Oddworld Library.
  3. a b c d e f g h i Lanning, Lorne (May 2009). ‘The Oddworld Game that Never Was’, interview by Ben Reeves. Game Informer. Posted online on 27 September 2009. Scans by ArtemisPanthar (23 May 2009). Post 36 in ‘Fangus Klot article in the new GI.’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums.
  4. a b c Game Informer (April 2005). ‘The Brutal Ballad of Fangus’, ‘Connect’, p. 24. Game Informer. Bloomington (IN): Sunrise Publications. Transcription by LawnChairFire (17 March 2005). Post 32 in ‘New Oddworld game published by Majesco!’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums. Scan by LawnChairFire (18 March 2005). Post 108 in ‘New Oddworld game published by Majesco!’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums.
  5. a b Swanland, Raymond (unknown). Description of image submitted to Ballistic Publishing.
  6. Bloom, Charles (30 March 2005). Old Rants. cbloom.com.
  7. Lanning, Lorne (20 December 2004). ‘Interview: Enter the Oddworld of Lorne Lanning’, interview by Graeme Boyd. ComputerAndVideoGames.com.
  8. Aebischer, Silvio (19 July 2005). Various images in his online portfolio.
  9. Durall, Jameson (3 April 2005). ‘Oddworld: Design Process’.
  10. Bross, Michael (31 May 2009). ‘Oddworld's "The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot"’. Blog entry. MySpace.
  11. Alcazar Entertainment (13 January 2007). ‘Animation’, ‘Games’. Alcazar Entertainment website.
  12. Winkelman, Kyle (24 June 2007). ‘Game Cycles’, ‘Animation’. Kyle Winkelman’s website.
  13. UnforgivingEdges (22 March 2005). Post 299 in ‘New Oddworld game published by Majesco!’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums.
  14. Aebischer, Silvio (10 March 2005). Interview by Jason, 22·03. Broadcast by Jason (06/04/2005). Press Start. KCPR. Transcript by UnforgivingEdges (07 April 2005). Post 21 in ‘Date set for my Oddworld show!’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums. Made downloadable by Max the Mug (05/06/2005). ‘UnforgivingEdges’ Oddworld radio programme dowloadable’. OddBlog. The Oddworld Library.
  15. Oddworld Forums members (17 March 2005). ‘New Oddworld game published by Majesco!’. Oddworld Discussion. Oddworld Forums.
  16. Padilla, Raymond M. (29 March 2005). ‘The End of Oddworld?’. GameSpy.
  17. Daultry, Stephen (3 September 2005). ‘EGN 2004: Stranger get your guns: Oddworld sequel planned’. ComputerAndVideoGames.com.
  18. Lanning, Lorne (27 April 2005). ‘A brave new Oddworld: Lanning speaks out’, interview by Graeme Boyd. ComputerAndVideoGames.com.