Archive:PlayNOW! - 1 - The Department

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


Unfortunately, we were unable to recover the second half of this designer diary. If you have a copy, please let us know.

The Designer Diary

Part One: The Department

A New Monthly Feature

Welcome to the first installment of this exclusive game design diary from Oddworld Inhabitants. We’re an American software developer, located on the central coast of California, best known for our Playstation titles Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee and Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus. This game design diary will be your window to the world of development here at Oddworld, both on our current title, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, and on other projects and company-related information.

I’d like to thank the folks at PlayNOW! for making this space available. I appreciate this opportunity to keep some of our most dedicated fans up to date on the happenings here at Oddworld Inhabitants.

As we count down the months to the release of Munch’s Oddysee, I’ll be covering a broad range of topics. I’ll give you a glimpse of the characters, events, and challenges that await you in our next game. I’ll tell you a bit about Oddworld culture—​both that of the game world, and of the real life Oddworld Inhabitants that make those worlds. I’ll show you what game designers, artists, programmers, and producers do every day.

Because I am a game designer, I’ll start things off with a description of our design department and the people in it.

The Design Department

Oddworld Inhabitants employs four full-time game designers, with a fifth who started in January. We also have an assistant director inside the department who does significant design work.

The overall game design of the project is the responsibility of the game designers. While increasingly common, it’s still unusual to find people in the business who do game design and nothing else, and even more unusual to find so many of them working on the same project. For many years, the model in this business was to combine game design responsibilities with other tasks, usually programming or project management. As the industry has grown, and as game budgets and expectations have ballooned, it’s proving to make good business sense to hire game design experts to make the games fun, easy to play, and challenging. Oddworld is a forward-looking company in a lot of ways, and that includes a dedicated game design department.

Who Are These Guys?

Oddworld’s designers are a varied lot. Our assistant director is Chris Ulm. Formerly editor-in-chief of Malibu Comics, Chris joined us as a game designer on Abe’s Exoddus, and is a director-in-training for Munch, although he still has significant game design duties. Our lead designer is Jeff Brown, a video game veteran most recently with Activision, with several games for Super Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation under his belt. Mark Simon and Dan Kading are new to the profession of game design but not new to the business; Mark was the lead tester on Abe’s Exoddus, while Dan was a programmer on that same project. Frank Simon, who was the producer on our previous Oddworld titles, will be joining us full-time as a game designer in the new year, bringing a wealth of game and production experience to the day-to-day tasks of putting the game together.

I am Paul O’Connor, and after serving as lead designer on Oddworld’s first two games, I’ve been kicked upstairs to senior game designer. I’ve designed all sorts of games since my first publication back in 1980, including paper and pencil role playing games, miniatures games, board games, computer games, and video games.