Archive:Great Heroes aren't Convenient

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  • Published: 15 May 2001
  • Host:
  • Author: Paul O’Connor
  • Game: Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
  • Format: Publised Online

The Designer Diary

Great Heroes aren't Convenient

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