Interview with Alf

Interview with Alf [Hosted by Oddworld-Web]

Date: 24/01/2005
Interviewers: Abe Babe & Oddguy
Interviewee: Alf

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20051219154147/http://oddworld.au.com/site/features/interview-alf.php

Abe Babe: What is the expected game play length of this game for an average game player?

Alf: We’re estimating it at 12-15 hours, but obviously that is going to vary quite a bit not only with skill level, but just in how people would prefer to play – there’s a lot of room to “play it your way.”

Abe Babe: When I was at Oddworld Studios earlier this year, I managed to play some of the levels as they were at the time. Has there been much change in how the gameplay and enviornments have changed from six months ago, and if so, what improvements were implimented?

Alf: Wow, six months ago… it seems like forever! One thing I can think of that has changed is the ammo. It went through a lot of revisions. It is a really important part of the game and we wanted it to be exactly as we intended. It started out a little too cutesy for our taste so we toughened it up a little, added the upgrades, and gave the player one infinite ammo, the Zappflies. You’ll used these to hunt other ammo, and you can use them on enemies as well.

Abe Babe: What prompted the change in title from “Oddworld Stranger” to “Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath”?

Alf: A couple of things, really. First of all the previous naming conventions were a very specific pattern… Come on, say it with me now: Oddworld, colon, character’s name, then insert clever word that represents a journey. Kinda predictable, so we decided we wanted to keep the same “ring” to it and maintain that way of identifying with Oddworld, but come a little closer to center without all the made-up spellings and such. On the other hand we got whiff of some other titles that were similar to what we’d previously had in mind and preferred to not cause any confusion. One thing Oddworld is not keen on is being “just like” anything else… so we sort of avoid that at all costs!

Abe Babe: What kind of promotions are being planned for the game, such as advertising and other promotions as the release date draws nearer?

Alf: Well, first of all you may have noticed a brand new site at http://www.oddworld.ea.com. It’s a gorgeous piece, I must say, I really like it. Also online, you’ll find great Oddworld features at gamespot.com and developer diaries at http://xbox.gamespy.com/xbox/oddworld-4/572191p1.html. A print ad has also recently been in some recent pubs, like OXM. I’ve also been privy to some cool online promos, and of course, the crème de la crème, the piece de resistance, is that pre-order dvd. It is just awesome. I’m not bragging, really, it is just really cool, even as old Alfie, to see all those Oddworld movies and random clips all in one place, together, where they belong, on one handy-dandy dvd. Getting it all on there was no easy task, and it is probably the most comprehensive Oddworld item we’ve ever put together. Well, since The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants (available at http://www.ballisticpublishing.com). This is really an exciting time for us and for the fans, with the book and the dvd being available just before the launch of Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. It just seems like two things we’ve always wanted have finally come to fruition… I hope that the fans enjoy it as much as us!

Abe Babe: Where on Oddworld is this game set? Is it set on Mudos or on another continent altogether?

Alf: The game takes place in Mudos but not in the same region that Abe and Munch are from. So you’ll see some familiar species, but for the most part it is a whole new cast and location.

Abe Babe: Relating to the above question, at what part of the Oddworld timeline does the game take place? Is it set before/after the Abe/Munch games, or in a totally different time period?

Alf: Wow, that is a great question. The story is really completely separate, so the time, in relation to the Abe and Munch games is really sort of irrelevant. However, if we did put them in chronological order, for whatever reason, I would say it is after. We haven’t ripped a hole in the fabric of time or anything.

Abe Babe: Apart from the obvious FPS and action/adventure genres in the game, the game appears to incorporate some elements of the RPG gentre [purchasing and upgrading of ammo, stores, talking to townspeople, sidequests, etc]. What influenced these to be included in the game and do you see Oddworld bringing other RPG elements into their games or expanding on this in the future?

Alf: Fun. That’s it. We wanted this game to be fun, entertaining, enjoyable… on top of everything else. The upgrades add a lot to the gameplay experience, and our designers had a blast coming up with the purchasable items, as well as HOW they are purchased. I’m not sure what the future holds, if that will become a bigger influence. We are always interested in trying new and different things, so it may be. It would be great to incorporate some online elements in that way.

Oddguy: Stranger’s Wrath production has been very secret. What are the pros and cons of this for you?

Alf: It has its good points and its bad… I think there was more creative freedom, but also the price of falling off the industry radar for a while, not to mention our poor fans being kept in the proverbial dark. Things are picking up now though, and so far the strategy (if you want to call it that) seems to have benefited us. I think it has created a bit of a stir and some anticipation, and hopefully, if all goes well, people will be pleasantly surprised with all we’ve packed into this game. We think it’s worth the wait!

Oddguy: What innovations in the game do you think other developers will follow?

Alf: In general, I guess we hope that all developers keep pushing the capabilities of the hardware across the board, because everyone benefits. Certainly innovation is constricted by time, but we still feel strongly about what we’ve done with this engine. The camera has a really good feel to it, and the transition between first and third person is smooth. There’s a depth of field device that allows for some cool camera effects as well… these are some things you’ll likely be seeing more of in the future, from us and maybe other developers.

Oddguy: Overall, how much has Stranger stayed intact compared to beginning of production?

Alf: Well, the story has been through many iterations, as well as some of the features. But I think we’ve held true to what was most important to us, and that is the feel of the in-game cinematics, the quality of the CG, the entertainment value and the challenge of the gameplay and our wicked live ammo!

Oddguy: Who’s your favorite new character appearing in Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath?

Alf: I have to say it’s the Clakkerz. Particularily the females… it’s the first time we’ve had female characters in the game and frankly, I enjoy their sense of humor and admire their ability to offend in a cowardly, cranky sort of way. Remind you of anyone? ; )

Oddguy: Favorite environment?

Alf: I guess I love the snowy locales. Probably because it stimulates more senses than sight, you’ll want to shiver when you see it! BRRRR!!!!

Oddguy:. Will the game have a “bad ending” like previous installations of the Oddworld series?

Alf: Nope, the end is the end is the end and that’s it. But then you get the sense that it’s not the end, so, there ya go. This is my best attempt at luring you to get the game and play it to the end!

Oddguy: Oddworld games usually have a valuable message woven within the story. Abe dealt with slavery and Munch with animal testing. What issue does Stranger deal with?

Alf: All of our characters deal with lots of issues, that is what makes them compelling. Not to nit pick, but Abe and Munch were confronted with slavery and animal testing, AND MORE! Stranger will also deal with many issues.. I think the difference is that some of his are more personal. But the big “theme issue” for this game is water privatization. Sekto Springs Bottled Water Company has dammed the river to bottle water… and in the process damned the inhabitants that have relied on it for centuries.

Oddguy: Stranger is the only guy to have a story separate from the Quintology. Do you know of any plans for another character besides Stranger having this kind of setup?

Alf: I don’t know of any plans specifically, but I do know that when Abe was “born,” he was the only guy to have a story at that time. I think in a nutshell, Lorne has lots of ideas and stories to share, and some of them are a part of the Quintology… but others aren’t. There is more to come for Stranger, and there are also more heroes to be born.

Oddguy: Will the game include any Cheat Codes or Easter Eggs? Possibly secret Live Ammo? Personally, I think Fleeches would make an awesome addition to Stranger’s arsenal.

Alf: Fleeches? Great, but messy! You see they slobber so much….. Anyway, if I told you there were Easter Eggs, they wouldn’t really be Easter Eggs anymore, now would they? Well maybe, but I need a clever way out of this question…

Oddguy: When watching a demo of Stranger on the Internet, it looked to me that the player would trigger checkpoints like in Halo. Is this true? What happened to Quicksave?

Alf: The game has quicksaves just like the previous Oddworld games. We also do autosaves as you play through the game; this is just to help the forgetful gamer who doesn’t hit the save button very often – we don’t want them to have to replay the whole level when they die!

Abe Babe: And one final question just for you. Are you going to make an appearance?

Alf: No, that stranger has his own dressing room, a personal assistant and gets a latte delivered every morning. I guess I’m sort of the Hollywood has been of Oddworld. My tummy is a little too poochy, my eyes not as perky as they once were, and face it, who wants to see an aging Mudokon in a loincloth when there’s a hunky stranger strutting around?

Many thanks to Alf and Oddworld Inhabitants for taking the time to answer our questions.