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First Stranger remaster dev diary
The first in a new series of developers’ diaries chronicling the remastering of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath by Just Add Water has been published on the official JAW website. This entry introduces the changes that need to be made to the game, which will form the backbone of the series, and describes their choice of version control software. There is also an enlightening image comparing the Stranger model with different polygon counts.
Stranger’s Wrath remastered for the PlayStation 3
Just Add Water has announced their first project working with the Oddworld universe, a remastered digital release of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath on the PlayStation 3 via the PlayStaion Network. While the game itself will remain exactly the same, it will be updated with higher display resolution, improved character models, remastered audio and support for PlayStation Move. Resolution will be upped from 640×480 to 720p, and character model polygon counts increased from the original Xbox’s 3 000 to 25 000. Dialogue, often criticized for being grainy and low-quality, is having its bitrate doubled from the original 11kHz to 22kHz.
Despite media reports that it will be PlayStation 3-exclusive, Lorne Lanning and JAW’s Managing Director Stewart Gilray have confirmed that an Xbox Live Arcade release has not been ruled out but can’t yet be confirmed because of technical and beaurocratic reasons.
Stranger’s Wrath was the choice of remaster over Munch’s Oddysee for several reasons, including its lack of middleware dependency and high ratings by critics. It is the first announced of five projects being worked on by JAW and is expected to be released—with French, German, Italian and Spanish subtitles—near Easter 2011.
JAW will be publishing a series of developer diaries about the remastering process, with the first part due today.
Sources: JAW official website
Early Oddworld retrospective and future Oddworld format
NowGamer has spoken to Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna and published a couple of articles about the history of Oddworld. The first, ‘The Odd Couple’, the professional relationship between Lorne and Sherry and its role in the founding of Oddworld Inhabitants. This piece concludes with Lorne’s description of how the format of future Oddworld gaming instalments will differ from those of the past.
Rather than the, ‘Here’s the 30-hour story you’re going to unfold through an action-adventure game.’ It would be something that’s more of a living ecosystem. And I don’t mean that in terms of a natural simulation, but I mean in terms of a marketplace that would allow people to have much more custom configuration over their gaming experience.
‘The Odd Couple’ online article accompanies a fuller interview in Issue 98 of games™, available since 8 July. The second article is ‘The Making of Abe’s Oddysee’, follows the title’s development from inspirations to release, along the way looking at the game’s tone, art, audio and gameplay.
Stewart Gilray talks Oddworld revival
Stewart Gilray, managing director of Just Add Water, has given an interview with VG247 in which he ellaborates on how the relationship between OWI and JAW was struck up, comments on how much press and fan excitement has been generated, and reassures fans that the series will stay true to itself. Stewart says the first thing they’ll release may even come before the end of July, but that it doesn’t qualify as any of the ‘big stuff’. According to him, there will be no announcements made at GamesCon.
New Oddworld games coming
English game developer studio Just Add Water has announced that it has been co-operating with Oddworld Inhabitants over the last 12 months and is currently working on four or five projects that will see a return to Oddworld.
While there are very few specifics, Just Add Water’s managing director Stewart Gilray told Glenn Percival, Joel Sherfinski and Josh Langford of the PS Nation Podcast the first project would see Abe but not on the PlayStation, and that he was hoping to reveal more in the next couple of weeks. Listen to the interview in Episode 173 of the PS Nation Podcast, ‘Portable Gravity’.
Just Add Water, whose popular retro-styled PSN shooter Gravity Crash is being released on the PSP soon this month, specializes in digital distribution, and like Gravity Crash the upcoming Oddworld games will not be released on physical media.
Stewart Gilray has also confirmed that the Twitter account AbeMudokon is official. Several keen followers had already put the pieces together, and video game blogs and forums were getting excited by Abe’s promises of ‘there's a new Oddworld.com coming soon’ (confirmed by The Native on the Oddworld Forums) and ‘In less than 48hrs, the truth will start to come out.... Sssssssssh’. One exchange with a fellow Tweeter has him mention 2.5D, a possible gameplay style for a future game.
Other key accounts to follow on Twitter include those of Just Add Water and Steward Gilray.
Sources: Just Add Water, PS Nation Podcast, TheSixthAxis
Abe’s Exoddus on PAL PlayStation Store
Following Abe’s Oddyee in April, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus has been released on the PlayStation Store in PAL territories. Owners of the PlayStation 3 and PSP in these regions can now download the 1998 bonus game from PSN for just £3.99 or €4.99.
Sources: PlayStation.Blog.Europe, erwinraaben55
Abe’s Oddysee on European PlayStation Store
Confirmed by several members of the Oddworld Forums, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee is now available to purchase and download from the PlayStation Store in Europe. No release date for Abe’s Exoddus has been given.
Oddbox delayed, achievements coming
Oddworld Forums administrator Nate has shared his correspondence with Lorne Lanning regarding the release of the Oddbox, a compilation of all four Oddworld games currently being created for Steam, marking the first time Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath will be published on anything other than the Microsoft Xbox.
In his messages, Lorne says he is still hoping for a 2010 release even though the conversion of Stranger’s Wrath is proving more troublesome than had been expected. Munch’s Oddysee, on the other hand, was in final gold at the time the message was sent.
He also revealed that Steam achievements are being built for all four of the Oddworld games.
Lorne judging NVArt5 competition
Lorne is sitting on the panel of the fifth NVArt competition, as he has done for all four previous competitions. The latest—Accelerate—challenges artists to create futuristic vehicle designs in the style of Syd Mead, who himself is leading the panel of judges. The deadline for entries is 30 June 2010.
Lorne at 3D Gaming Summit
Lorne Lanning is a featured speaker at the first ever 3D Gaming Summit being held at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City on 21–22 April. Lorne will be amongst the panelists discussing the role videogames will play in promoting the growth of 3D entertainment, particularly consumer purchasing of 3D HDTVs, on The Futurists Panel, at 3 p.m. on 22 April.
Lorne’s advice to game designers
Lorne was amongst the panelists at the first annual Game Design Panel hosted by the Academy of Art University in San Francisco on 3 March. Lorne gives advice to people persuing careers in game design, specifically concept artists. Other panelists included Glen Schofield of Activision, Peter Tsaykel of Telltale Games, and Bill Mooney and Craig Woida of Zynga.
A recording of the panel, in two parts, is available on YouTube courtesy of Electrobud Games. The videos are low-quality but subtitled.
Lorne blogs about PSN
To promote the release of Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus on the PlayStation Store this week, Lorne Lanning has written a blog entry in which he shares his excitement over Abe being brought home to Sony. The Abe games will be available U.S. $9·99 each from this Thursday, 22 October (not 21 October).
Lorne also replies to a number of the comments made, not only confirming that Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath will be made available on PC in 2010, but claiming they are investigating bringing them to the PSN as well! Lorne also hints that the next Oddworld title may just use the Stranger engine.
New Oddworld trademarks
Seven patents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Monday 5 October hint towards the future projects of Lorne Lanning. The patents, all under the name of OddMobb, cover a variety of media including video games, action figures, card games, board games, novels, online social networking service, and online 3D virtual environment featuring user generated content.
The patents are owned by the Berkeley company OddMobb, Inc., which shares its address with Oddworld Inhabitants. Furthermore, the list of attendees of the Social Gaming Summit 2009 identifies Lorne Lanning of the company OddMobb.
Sources: James Cottee of Games On Net and supererogatory of superannuation
The Oddbox announced
Lorne Lanning was recently interviewed by Toby Davis of Bitmob. In this interview Lorne reconfirms that the Abe games are coming to the PSN:
TD: Will the gaming community ever see a re-release of the first two Oddworld games on the PSN store for PS3?
LL: Funny you should ask, because they are already on their way. We just signed the contract this week and the original Abe games will officially be coming to PSN very soon.
But he also announces The Oddbox!
TD: How big is the Oddworld universe in the grand scheme of things? Any chance of seeing another Oddworld game in the next five years?
LL: Oddworld is a creation that we'll likely never sell or part with. It wasn't created for that purpose. It was created with the intent of creating modern myths in pop culture mediums. Nurturing these myths and their casts [of characters] to actually mean something in an increasingly meaningless landscape of blatant consumerism.
So yes, we will be seeing more from Oddworld. Regarding the library, we are in the process of converting Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath to the PC, so that all four of the major Oddworld games will be re-releasing this winter in a package called "The Oddbox." This will be the Abe games, Munch, and Stranger as one package for Steam's digital distribution network, as well as a few other digital distribution outlets.
Regarding new material, we hope to have an announcement soon, but I've been saying that for awhile now so I'll just shut up and hope for the best.
Abe is coming to the PSN
Here's an excellent news for all of you that have been waiting to play Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Oddworld: Abe's Exodus on their PS3 or PSP: the Abe games are coming to the PSN.
For those who don't trust ESRB leaks as a reliable source, we have have received confirmation from Oddworld Inhabitants themselves that this is indeed happening.
The second season of Players Only with Scott Steinberg is finished now after eight episodes being released. Lorne Lanning is featured in several episodes where he shares his opinions and covers various aspects of the gaming culture. If you are a bit curious about what's going on in the game industry you definitely have to check out this show.
Sources: Players Only with Scott Steinberg
Here’s a little catch up of all the old news that are lickely to interest you but didn’t end up being posted on Oddblog because of our busy schedules.
Lorne Lanning was a panellist along with Brian Schmidt, Tommy Tallarico and Paul Lipson during the "Sound and Story" panel at the Siggraph 2009 in New Orleans.
Lorne is regularly juror for Ballistic Publishing’s EXPOSEs, and this year's edition is no exception. But this year he also conducted an interview with this year's Grand Master Award winner: Ralph McQuarrie.
A very interesting interview has been posted by 4 Player Podcast where Lorne explains the story behind Clakkers and various other aspects of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath.
Lorne has also recently given his opinion on the topic of Physical Video Gaming and has reacted towards Bioware's statement about ingame violence.
Finally it has been announced that he's an Advisory Board member of GameX , a video game expo scheduled October 23-25, 2009 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.
New Michael Bross album: Subway Meditations
Michael Bross’s sixth release, Subway Meditations, has been published on his own Deep Lever label. The album consists of ‘experimental, minimalist, ambient electronica’, composed largely using sounds recorded by Bross in the subways of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Subway Meditations is available on CD or download from Bross’s site, which also features track previews and one free track download.
It is also officially for sale at Amazon, eMusic and iTunes, but with fewer of the proceeds going to the artist.
Michael has writen some notes to accompany the release and describe his experience putting the album together. Subway Meditations has been reviewed by Patrick Gann of Original Sound Version and Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet.
Meanwhile, two tracks by Michael Bross have been released on Oceans and Atmospheres, Deep Lever’s first compilation album that has been released under a Creative Commons license and is available as a free download.
Michael Bross’s ‘Fighting Outlaws’ multitrack files have been remixed by Deep Lever netlabel artist Tom Lynn, and the result is also available for free download.
Sources: Michael Bross and Deep Lever