Just Add Water Interview

Just Add Water Interview [Hosted by Game-Pad]
Date: 12 February, 2011
Interviewer: Game-Pad
Interviewee: Stewart Gilray

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20120107120846/http://www.game-pad.net/interviews/1358-just-add-water-interview

We contacted Stewart Gilray, Managing Director for Just Add Water Developments, who kindly agreed to give us an interview. Just Add Water’s recent projects include Gravity Crash for the PSN as well as the recent PC port of Stranger’s Wrath (Originally created for the Xbox by Oddworld Inhabitants.) They are also working on the upcoming HD remakes of Stranger’s Wrath for PSN and Abe’s Oddysee (Working title – Abe HD).

Thanks Stewart for taking the time to answer some of our questions.

1. As a big fan of the Original Xbox version of Stranger’s Wrath I was immensely excited when I heard a port was coming to the PC and that it was also being re-made for the Playstation 3 and I couldn’t wait to play it again. How difficult has it been to update the games visual quality for the Playstation 3 remake and how much of the original textures and models have you been able to recycle?

Stewart Gilray: The work itself hasn’t been too bad, it’s been more about getting the tool and build chains working again. Understanding those, and in some cases re-writing parts of them, especially for the “HD” versions. I’d like to clarify something actually, we’re NOT just doing the “HD” version of Stranger for PS3, it will be released on PC as well, and we’re also in advanced talks with Microsoft, but right now I can’t actually talk about that.

To answer your question specifically, we re-using everything, we have a combined project since of around 45GB of data for PC and HD versions. With all the original Maya models and textures in PSD formats, usually larger than was used in the Xbox/PC versions of the game. E.G. We now have 3 2048×2048 textures for Stranger himself.

2. I purchased the Oddbox on day one via Steam and I think it’s fair to say that Stranger’s Wrath did have some issues initially, however JAW were very timely in fixing them and the game now plays just as I remember it. Obviously hardware has progressed quite rapidly since the original version launched on the Xbox, what sort of issues have JAW had to overcome when porting Stranger’s Wrath to the PC?

Stewart Gilray: It’s completely fair to say that we did hit a self-induced brick wall. Mostly down to me, and my perception of the PC market place. The last time I made a PC game was in 2001, and that was the last in a series of 12+ going back to 1993, however in those days PC games were aimed at mass market users, not just hard core, or advanced users, so you had to tell the user what to do, and in a simplest of terms possible. Somehow I thought that was still the case today. So yeah we fixed that up and offered much more display options, and control input options.

The biggest issue we had was the audio strangely enough. The original was powered by XACT, an Xbox only audio system, as a result we had to re-author ALL the audio in a new system, which is FMod, meaning that it would work on any platform, and not just PC.

We had issues with the renderer, but nothing that caused us as much grief as the audio.

3. There have been rumours on the net that Just Add Water would like to bring the re-made HD version of Stranger’s Wrath to the Xbox Live Arcade as well as the Playstation Network but are having difficulty convincing Microsoft. Can you comment on the likelihood of us seeing Stranger’s Wrath on the XBLA anytime soon?

Stewart Gilray: As I said earlier we are in talks with Microsoft right now, and I can’t go into what’s being said, but I think there’s a good chance there will be Oddworld titles on XBLA.

4. Following the large amount of attention the Oddworld games have received lately what with the Stranger’s Wrath re-make/port, the Munch’s Oddysee port and the recently announced Abe’s Oddysee re-make many Oddworld fans have renewed hope for the future of the series. Would it be too far-fetched to anticipate a HD remake of Abe’s Exoddus as well at some point in the foreseeable future?

Stewart Gilray: That is a hard one to address, because “Abe HD” is still taking shape from a design perspective. We’ve already decided on a few things, IE. The GameSpeak system from Exoddus will be in the title, quick saves will be in there, but as to will a version of Abe’s Exoddus be done, right now I don’t think so, because we’ve got other NEW Oddworld projects being worked on, and to work on.

5. Can you perhaps give us a hint as to what platform(s) we can expect to see Abe HD release on?

Stewart Gilray: We’ve not finalised the platforms yet, but we’re looking at 4 right now.

6. Now a question unrelated to Oddworld. As a fan of classic arcade games I quite enjoyed playing Gravity Crash for the PSN. Does JAW currently have any plans to release a Gravity Crash sequel at all?

Stewart Gilray: We don’t actually own “Gravity Crash”, and unless we worked with Sony again, unlikely, then it’s not happening.

7. Finally, following Just Add Water’s development of an updated Stranger’s Wrath and Abe’s Oddysee are you considering re-making any more older ‘forgotten’ gems?

Stewart Gilray: To be honest we so busy with Oddworld projects, I think it could be some time before something non-Oddworld pops along.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions Stewart, it’s much appreciated.

Stewart Gilray: Not a problem, it’s been a pleasure.