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.

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