Oddworld Discusses Xbox [2001]

Oddworld Discusses Xbox [Hosted by CoreMagazine.com]

Date: April 2001

Author: Dane Baker

Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20010412084005/http://www.coremagazine.com:80/news/3874.php3

The always quotable Lorne Lanning met with gaming media following the initial unveiling presentation earlier this week at Gamestock 2001 in Redmond, near Seattle. As one of the more outspoken critics of the difficulties of developing games for Sony’s PlayStation 2, Lanning first fielded questions regarding the move to Xbox. He said that to achieve their goals, developers require more memory and faster processors to implement a vision, subtly underscoring the Xbox’s hardware advantage over PlayStation 2 and the forthcoming GameCube.

Further nodding towards Xbox’s PC-like development architecture, Lanning noted that development is “about making things simpler to really harness the power of the machine.” He said that developers will be able to create great games at a lower cost, which will drive a lot of companies to Xbox. The power of Xbox wouldn’t be fully exploited, he said, until developers are able to move from the currently used bit-mapping technique to a much more detailed per-pixel shading technique.

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Game development issues, primarily those associated with 3D gaming such as camera systems, control schemes, and so on, are “problems we’ve failed to solve; we’re not walking through minefields,” Lanning said. He said there still were things to be ironed out in that area but that significant progress has been made during the last generation to fix the quirks associated with 3D games.

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Turning his attention to Oddworld, Lanning said that initially his team wanted to have the equivalent of 5 motion pictures rolled into the first Oddworld game, which appeared on PlayStation. Since they weren’t able to accomplish that, he said, there is still a lot left to explore in the Oddworld universe. In developing Munch’s Oddysee for the unproven Xbox, Lanning admitted that his company is taking a “big risk” but they are willing to break even if it helps Microsoft sell hardware. Another advantage, he said, is to utilize the experience gained from creating Munch’s Oddysee in pushing the envelope down the road with their future titles.

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Speaking of Munch’s Oddysee, Lanning noted the game is still in pre-alpha stage, and his team is currently examining how they can maximize the Xbox hard drive in the game. Players will be able to create characters at later points in the game, which was a feature not demonstrated in the playable version we tested. There were ideas his team had, Lanning said, that they weren’t able to implement because they “didn’t play well”, not because of limitations with the Xbox machine.

Closing things up, Lanning touched briefly on the future of gaming, which he believes will involve more successful titles using characters with more and more emotional components to draw gamers in. Munch’s Oddysee certainly appeals to gamers’ emotions, with colorful characters and rich (if somewhat incomprehensible) dialog and scenery to round out the picture.