Sam is a Mudokon queen, one of only a few females of the species capable of producing young, and the mother of Abe. It was originally planned for her to appear in Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, but she had to be cut from the story during the game’s troubled production.
As an adult female Mudokon, Sam is a biological queen who is alone responsible for producing the entire worker population of her colony. Her body is specialized in reproduction: while her head and thorax are just slightly taller than an adult worker Mudokon, her abdomen is many times this in height, length, and width. Her front end is much like a Mudokon worker’s, except with more age, a shorter head, and two huge breasts that spread out across the floor. Her hair is not tied up in a ponytail but in one huge roll.
There were once a few Mudokon queens, but once the Magog Cartel started opening factories in Mudos, the Glukkons began destroying the native culture and the other queens started dying. Scared of the genocide around her, Sam made a deal with the Glukkons, ensuring she and her children would always be given a place to stay, food and clothing, and that her children would be given jobs. When she saw that this deal was really a sell-out to the industrialized lifestyle and led to the enslavement of the entire Mudokon race, she was driven to terrible drug addiction and bouts of suicidal depression.
She is now kept on a straw bed in a huge padded lair in some Vykkers facility (Vykkers Labs 13 in the intended story of Munch’s Oddysee), chained between two security towers, each of which is fitted with gun turrets and spotlights. A ring of lights is suspended above her rear from the walls by metal cables, allowing adequate lighting for her egg laying. The Mudokon eggs are handled by Interns, whose large hands are perfect for carrying them, but who do not care for the unborn creatures inside. Sam is also under the guard of one or many Shrinks, whose job it is to keep her emotionally stable enough for her productivity not to drop below acceptable levels.
Sam’s Mudokon eggs are now sold as Sam’s Labor Eggs under the Slave Aid label. Paul O’Connor has mentioned that Sam is part of a secret experiment, but this may be a piece of misinformation.
Sam is responsible for sewing baby Abe’s lips together to prevent him from crying and disturbing livestock. She did this knowing that unless she shut him up first, he would be hurt until he shut up one one way or another.
According to the story intended for Munch’s Oddysee, Munch befriends Sam during his initial escape from Vykkers Labs. She sees the SkullJack on his head and comments ‘They did that to ya didn’t they? Doesn’t surprise me. You’d be amazed at what they can do.’ Munch then watches as she yells furiously at Interns who are taking her eggs away, then as she downs several vials and jars of drugs.
Sam made a deal with the Glukkons to provide her children with food and jobs, as an act of love to ensure that the marginalization and cultural genocide that was taking place all across newly industrialized Mudos would not befall her own children. Having seen that this led to their being treated as slave labour and a natural resource, she has developed severe drug addictions and wild, rapid mood swings that take her between fury at the industrial races, nurturing love of her children, and suicidal depression. She can be almost grandmotherly, but she can also be a pill-popping bitch. The Shrink that looks after her knows that, ultimately, she is on her way out.
The concept of eusocial sapient races on Oddworld was inspired by Lorne Lanning’s interest in the eusocial species of Earth: bees, ants, termites and naked mole rats—one of his personal favourites. Lanning wanted to use this as the reproductive model of developed cultures to explore ideas of inheritance, sexuality, idolization, and parenting.
Sam in particular was inspired by Lanning’s own mother, who he always saw as a tragic figure ‘caught in the consumer mechanics of our modern world,’ albeit in a greatly exaggerated way. According to him, she married a man she did not love because she was worried about raising two children alone, and was addicted to painkillers from a young age due to back problems. Lanning felt the idea of having to make a horrific decision that would affect a family’s history was a powerful one he could use to make Sam a sympathetic character, but with an Oddworld ‘tell’—an unexpected aspect to her that conflicts with her dominant personality.
Lanning also compares the deal Sam made with the Glukkons to deals made between Native Americans and the expanding United States.
Sam was originally supposed to appear in Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee, with Abe’s goal being to rescue her from Vykkers Labs. Sam was designed, sculpted by Farzad to be laser scanned and turened into a digital model, and included in FMV storyboards. Her inclusion in the game was reported to the press as late as July 2001, but in September Microsoft announced via GameSpot that Sam was removed from the game’s story. Her removal, along with that of other gameplay and storyline elements, was due to Munch’s troubled developmental process and, ultimately, having to deliver the game as a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox. The only reference to Sam in the final game is a sign for Sam’s Labor Eggs.
Sam’s appearance was put back in the pipeline, possibly rescheduled to appear in Munch’s Exoddus, whose script was drafted, but put to one side for Stranger’s Wrath. When Oddworld Inhabitants shut down its internal game development studio, Lanning hoped reveal Sam in films.
- Varahramyan, Farzad, c. Raymond Swanland (30 May 1997). ‘Lair’. IGN (15 February 2000). Also in Cathy Johnson & Daniel Wade (15 September 2004). ‘Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’, p. 231. The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants: The First Ten Years 1994–2004. Mylor: Ballistic Publishing.
- Model of Sam. Film broadcast on ‘Office Tour’ (12 December 2001), 1·51. Gamepower. Jim.
- Model of Sam. Photograph published in Cathy Johnson & Daniel Wade (15 September 2004). ‘Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee’, p. 231. The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants: The First Ten Years 1994–2004. Mylor: Ballistic Publishing.
- Lanning, Lorne (14 April 2008). ‘[4: The relationship between Abe and Sam]’ (08 August 2008) of ‘Nate interviews Lorne Lanning’. OddBlog. The Oddworld Library.
- Alf (4 September 2002). [Alf 21], question 13. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Official Oddworld website.
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- Oddworld Inhabitants. Labor Eggs’ sign graphic. In Tri Pham, Jeff Barton & Michael Littlefield (21 November 2001). ‘The Loading Dock’, ‘Return to Vykkers Labs’, p. 82. Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee: Prima’s Official Strategy Guide. Roseville (CA): Prima Games.
- O’Connor, Paul (22 December 1999). ‘Secrets’. Entry 3 in Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee Designer Diary. Videogames.com.
- O’Connor, Paul (5 May 1998). ‘Days’. Entry 1 in Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus Designer Diary. Videogames.com.
- Alf (2 December 2002). Alf, q. 7. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Official Oddworld website.
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- Storyboards for Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. Photographs published in ‘Chatting with Oddworld’ interview (January 2002). XBM issue 2, p. 42. Bristol, UK: Paragon Publishing.
- Johnson, Cathy & Daniel Wade (15 September 2004). ‘Munch’s Oddysee’, p. 231. The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants: The First Ten Years 1994–2004. Mylor: Ballistic Publishing.
- O’Connor, Paul, Chris Ulm & Farzad Varahramyan (23 March 2001). ‘Oddfellows: Character Design the Oddworld Way’ slide show presentation. Game Developers Conference 2001.
- Lanning, Lorne (30 October 2000). ‘with Lorne Lanning’ by Sydney & Abe Babe, q. 1. Oddworldian & Oddworld-Web.
- Lanning, Lorne (14 April 2008). ‘5: Glukkon history’ (15 August 2008) of ‘Nate interviews Lorne Lanning’. OddBlog. The Oddworld Library.
- Lanning, Lorne (23 October 1999). ‘with Lorne Lanning’ by GT Marketing Slig, q. 11. Official Oddworld website.
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- Alf (30 April 2001). Alf 08, q. 13. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Official Oddworld website.
- Lanning, Lorne (12 June 2000). ‘and power: Oddworld isn’t so odd anymore’ interview by Edd Fear. Gamers’ Republic Online.
- Photographs of Farzad modelling Sam (15 February 2000). ‘Is It Like to Design With Oddworld?’ interview with Farzad Varahramyan by Douglas C. Perry. IGNPS2.
- Lanning, Lorne (12 December 2001). ‘Office Tour’, 1·51. Gamepower. Jim.
- Satterfield, Shane (5 September 2001). ‘changes for Munch’s Oddysee’. GameSpot.
- Brown, Rob (3 May 2002). ‘Munch’s Oddysee interview’ by Ben & Aurora, q. 6. Xbox Corp.
- Lanning, Lorne, & Maurice Konkle (1 March 2004). ‘Uncommon Threads’ by Brendan Sinclair. Polygon 9: 37–8. Knoxville (TN): Deviation.
- Oddworld Inhabitants (14 November 2001). Wall of cargo hold at end of ‘The Loading Dock’. Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. Microsoft Game Studios.
- Alf (1 May 2002). Alf 18, q. 21. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Official Oddworld website.
- Alf (19 February 2003). Alf, q. 5. Alf’s Rehab & Tea. Official Oddworld website.
- Lanning, Lorne (14 November 2000) ‘Inhabitants Developer Chat’ online chat on GameSpy Arcade, q. 14. PlanetXbox.