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  • Published: 11 September 1998
  • Host:
  • Author: Paul O’Connor

The Designer Diary

Part 10: Convergence

Notwithstanding the alarming rate at which big entertainment concerns found and fold their interactive wings, there’s no doubt that movies and games are rushing toward a common point. The coming years will see the storytelling conventions of video games broaden as wider entertainment markets beckon. Games will become less obscure, more sophisticated, and more accessible to general audiences and hard-core gamers alike.

One of the missions of Oddworld Inhabitants is to make this convergence a reality. Our first, tottering steps are the integration of our movies with our gameplay. Anyone who has played Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee knows that our movies are seamlessly integrated with the game.

Our long introductory movies that merge directly into the game have already become a company trademark. When Abe enters a door, the camera swoops through space to catch Abe coming out the other side. When Abe throws a wrench into the works of RuptureFarms, we cut to Glukkons getting their shorts in a knot.

Movie production starts in the earliest stages of design, and it’s one of the very last things we finish. The movie team puts in late nights for the entirety of the production. It is very much a labor of love. ‘When you work in a traditional studio, you contract for a specific job: It’s a service industry,’ says head technical director, Christophe Chaverou. ‘Sometimes it goes well; most of the time it doesn’t. Here at Oddworld, you are working for what you believe in, so you get much more involved in what you do. It’s your own product, not some bullshit detergent.’

Oddworld’s animators have passion for their work. It goes beyond simple craftsmanship. It’s genuine affection. They have a sense of ownership about Abe and his pals that wouldn’t apply to dancing toasters or polar bears. ‘The animators have a great degree of freedom to interpret the characters as long as they communicate the idea as indicated in the script,’ says senior animator, Scott Easley. ‘Eventually, different characters begin to take on facial expressions, gestures, or idle habits that become staples of that character: Abe’s Woody Allen-esqe dismay, the Glukkons’ indignant raised eye, or Alf’s tent-revivalist cheesiness were not written in any script but are animators’ touches that became inherent parts of that character.’

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee introduced the world to Abe and the Mudokons, the evil Glukkons, the sniveling Sligs, and a host of other odd creatures. In Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, you’ll see all those characters and more. You’ll meet General Dripik, Vice President Aslik, and Director Phleg—?a trio of Glukkons that make Molluck look like Mother Theresa. You’ll join Alf and the other Party Mudokons that accompany Abe on his dire quest. Flying Sligs? You betcha. And by the time the evil Brewmaster reveals the secret ingredient of SoulStorm Brew, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Watch for them in Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus… coming to a Playstation—not a theater (yet!)—?near you this Thanksgiving.

— Paul O’Connor, Oddworld Inhabitants, 11 September 1998

NEXT: Beta!