Part 1: Slog Days

There’s a time between the beginning and the end when all details recede into a persistent haze… a time when it’s hard to keep your eye on the prize, when you feel like you’re bailing a swamp… a time when you’re working day and night and alpha pressure still hasn’t made itself fully felt. They call them the ‘dog days.’ Every project has them. And these are definitely the dog days… or Slog Days… of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus.

As my daily report so cheerfully informed me this morning, ‘THERE ARE 55 WORKING DAYS LEFT TILL ABE2 ALPHA.’ The definition of ‘working days’ is a source of amusement for the team, as our schedules charitably exclude weekends and holidays when determining how much time is left to complete the game… weekends and holidays that are just as charitably given back to the game by the most dedicated group of game professionals I’ve found in 17 years in the business.

The Inhabitants of Oddworld work like Slogs for all the usual reasons— paychecks, prestige, professional pride, and sense of craft— and also for one very unusual reason: They love what they’re doing, and there’s no place they’d rather be than in the fire of production on the sequel to the sleeper hit of 1997, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. It really doesn’t matter if it’s preproduction, or the optimistic days of early production, or the Slog Days, or the brutal late nights of revision and improvement leading to alpha and beyond… these guys have no reverse gear. They’re always moving forward. They have to, because Oddworld is the most competitive and demanding shop in the business. Stand still, and you’re meat.

Frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The good folks at videogames.com have provided us this space to keep you up to date with the ongoing development of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus. As I’m filing my first report during the Slog Days, I’ve no want of material for this column. It’s really more a case of where to begin than what to say. Space limitations ensure I can only blather a little bit each week, so rather than trying to present a hide‐bound chronology of what’s already happened and what’s still to come, I plan to jump around in time and tackle a variety of topics. In the weeks to come, I’ll report not only on the progress of the game, but also on the origins of the project, and where it fits into the emerging Oddworld universe. I’ll introduce you to the talented people that make the Inhabitants of Oddworld a reality. I’ll give you an insider’s view of the company that is Oddworld Inhabitants, a truly remarkable place that has a culture unique in the industry. I’ll tell you stuff about the game, too. Oh, and I’ll lie right and left. There are plenty of secrets we’re safeguarding for Abe’s Exoddus and the games that follow… secrets I can only hint about before the game is released… and one of the best ways to keep a secret is to spread misinformation. So don’t hold it against me if I take you for a ride every now and then.

It’s for your own good. Really.

— Paul O’Connor, Lead Game Designer, Oddworld Inhabitants, 22 April 1998

NEXT: Culture Shock