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Designer Diaries
by Senior Game Designer Paul O'Connor



Abe and Munch are two of the most wildly imaginative videogame "heroes" ever seen. Could you shed some light on the creative process behind the evolution of Munch as a character?

Secondly, what game design challenges have you faced by having the game feature two completely different (yet complimentary) leading characters? And to that end, what kind of gameplay challenges will players face because of this?

"If we wanted to make things convenient, we wouldn't have created the titular hero of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. We would have picked something that runs, jumps, and sneaks pretty much like Abe. Maybe another Mudokon, with pink skin and a bow on its head. We could call her 'Babe.' Perfect.'Not likely.'

"Munch is kind of the anti-Abe. He doesn't sneak. He doesn't run. Instead, Munch is quick as an eel in water, he zaps stuff with his head port, and he has to live with the awful knowledge that he's the last of his kind. He has an amazing story, and his destiny will shock you.

"Munch is a lot of things, but he's not convenient. Great heroes don't fit in - they demand that you accommodate them in all their crazy glory. It's great to have such an original and compelling character to spearhead our drive into 3D gaming, but the little sucker is so bleeping different from anything we've done before that he's turned our world upside down. Munch gave us no choice but to turn ourselves upside down.

"Because of Munch, water areas now figure in almost every venue of Munch's Oddysee. Cooperative play is pivotal - if Munch can't jump over an obstacle, then Abe picks up his buddy and gives him a toss. If Abe can't clear out a factory floor on his own, then Munch possesses a robot crane arm and does the job. Most importantly, Munch weaned us from the conviction that Oddworld = Abe. Munch and Abe are co-star, and the more we've given the little Gabbit his due, the more this wonderful new character has flowered.

"We're better for knowing Munch. He hasn't been convenient. He's challenged us to be better at what we do, which shouldn't be a surprise. After all, that's what heroes are for."

Paul O'Connor
Senior Game Designer
Oddworld Inhabitants
15 May 2001



It's been said that Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is striving to be more than just a game, but a passport to Oddworld itself. Since we're always eager to travel abroad and visit strange and exotic locales, we decided to ask Oddworld Inhabitants Senior Game Designer Paul O'Connor exactly what this means for fans and interested gamers. Here's what he had to say.

"Part of the verbal fusillade I've fired off about Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is that it isn't a game so much as a passport to Oddworld itself. This is because the game is so different that you can't really appreciate what sets it apart until you get your hands on the controls . then you'll have one of those, "Ah, I get it" moments, and your gaming universe will change forever.

"Until that time, I'll have to fall back on analogy. The difference between Munch's Oddysee and other games is like the difference between Disneyland and a traveling carnival. Both have rides, stuff you can buy, and things to eat. But that's where the similarity ends. While thrilling, the traveling carnival is a desultory experience, with none of the attention paid to the details of theme and fantasy experienced at Disneyland. At the carnival, you never forget where you are. A rollercoaster is just a rollercoaster. You never transcend the rides to believe that you're really on a trip into space, or flying above London with Peter Pan.

"We trust that Munch's Oddysee will be a transcendent game experience. All the thrills you expect will be there, but the attention to detail and life-like behavior of the Inhabitants will make you forget that you're playing a game, and draw you into the world itself. If you want to be a daytripper and efficiently complete each little mission . great, the game can do that. But if you want to really visit Oddworld, your exploration will yield depths and details that just aren't present in other games.

"So have your passports ready when Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee debuts on Xbox later this year."

Paul O'Connor
Senior Game Designer
Oddworld Inhabitants
26 January 2001