PC Player (German Magazine): A Conversation with Abe creator Lorne Lanning [1998]

Date: December, 1998

Description: This article was originally published in the German magazine PC Player. This translation is neither sanctioned or approved by Oddworld Inhabitants or PC Player and should be read on a conditional basis.

Source: PC Player, pp. 96-97

Abe on the Wrong Side

Instead of the second chapter of the five-part Oddworld series, the interlude title, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, will be released shortly before Christmas. We asked Abe’s creator, Lorne Lanning, if this was just to maximize profits, and also if submitting the cutscenes from Exoddus for consideration in the next Academy Awards was his own personal revenge on the Hollywood scene.

PC Player: Hi Lorne, how is our old friend Abe?

Lorne Lanning: Let’s put it this way: He’s getting more sleep lately.

PC Player: How would you describe his new adventure, Abe’s Exoddus, in five sentences?

Lorne: It’s definitely just going to be one of the most challenging, entertaining and straight-up humorous games ever. Whoever doesn’t have a laugh when playing it is probably brain dead. If you think it’s too difficult, you better take your finger out of your nose. Anyone who thinks that the graphics aren’t chic is probably blind. And if you liked Abe’s Oddysee, you’ll simply love Abe’s Exoddus. (Did I mention it’s extensive? Really extensive? 1000 screens gross, 25 minute film sequences, two CD-ROMs — that’s more than twice as many locations, with twice as much space, as its predecessor.)

PC Player: Not bad — but aren’t you afraid the whole thing will be more difficult to master with all the new gameplay elements and expanded Gamespeak?

Lorne: To avoid this, we spent a lot of time placing all the gameplay elements, such as levers or valves, in intuitive environments, as well as making the controls intuitive. There are many such elements, but they only add to the entertainment value. During the development phase, we carried out a lot of investigations with target groups. There were some things that came to light that made Abe’s Exoddus more difficult, but feedback from testers helped us locate and eliminate any vulnerabilities that would effect the gameplay. The results of our latest “test shows” are better than we would have dreamed — and no one complained that the game was too difficult. A lot of people are overjoyed with the “Quicksave” function. They tell us that it both eliminates repeatedly playing through challenging sections of the game and completely obliterates the frustration factor.

guard tower
A watchtower of the Glukkons is created. Upper left: An Abe-sketch.

PC Player: According to rumors, the Unreal engine will be used for Munch’s Oddysee, the second chapter of the Quintology. Did GT Interactive, co-owner of Oddworld Inhabitants and distributor of Unreal, come up with idea? I thought you were designing your own engine that could better represent the numerous interactions between characters.

Lorne: We never intended to use the Unreal engine, nor will we ever. We looked at the technology for just one reason: Because of the real-time renderer, not because of the complete graphics routine. Munch’s Oddysee will have a homemade program code for the reasons you mentioned. There are a few other reasons too: We care about the interaction of the characters, their personalities, and the correct, real-time physics. These things are for the most part impossible to realize with the Unreal routines, so a complete technology transfer was never an option. As for GT, one of the reasons for our excellent relationship is that they do not tell us how to make games. They take care of marketing, ads, PR and sales. But when it comes to the actual game design, they let us handle the reins.

PC Player: Two years ago, for the first time, you talked about your plans for a five-part Oddworld series. With Exoddus, this will make it six titles. Why this change? Aren’t you worried the extra chapters will dilute your vision?

Lorne: We always wanted to develop games that would take place between the five major instalments. We didn’t expect that would be so soon, but it’s still a little while until we have the next generation of systems like the PlayStation 2 or Sega Dreamcast. It makes sense to wait a bit for Munch’s Oddysee. A real dilution would be to try and program the game on a 32-bit systems — that would certainly not be what we envisioned. In the meantime, we can develop a new and no-less exciting game for the currently available technology, which can help to strengthen the Oddworld Universe. We underline our commitment to quality to all our Oddworld fans. Abe’s Exoddus will still contain a high level of quality.

PC Player: You recently submitted the computer-animated cutscenes from Abe’s Exoddus for Best Animated Short Film in the Academy Awards. Was this your revenge for all those people who told you and Sherry that you would squander your talent by making games?

Lorne: Believe it or not, most of our former colleagues are more jealous of what we’ve achieved since our escape from Hollywood. They would all love to invent cool stories and characters, but there too few opportunities in Hollywood, if any. When our former colleagues look at our work, they always have honest compliments and praise. They know how hard it is to produce excellent computer graphics and how hard it is to create credible characters and compelling stories. We don’t have any feelings of revenge against our “old playground”. We just don’t want anyone to dictate how we should design our graphics, and you can’t avoid that in Hollywood. Since we submitted the Exoddus cutscenes, there had been even more support from the film community.


Oddworld — Part 1.5

Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus writes another dark chapter in the history of the Mudokons. A few Glukkons are earning a hefty bounty with SoulStorm Brew by looting the ancient city of Necrum. Mudokon bones are being dug out by by fellow tribesmen who have their eyes sewn shut, and the bones are being used as an ingredient in the addictive brew. Obviously, Abe has to do something: He’s drawing lots with some friends so they can put an end to the hustle and bustle.

In addition to Abe and the well-known Sligs, you can now also possess Glukkons, Paramites and Scrabs. You can even let them talk to each other via Gamespeak. Abe can only solve some puzzles with the help of his buddies, who will do what he asks. But if they find themselves breathing laughing gas, Abe must knock some sense back into them with a slap to the face. But beware: Don’t exaggerate the fisticuffs, otherwise you might hear a snarky “No” instead of “Follow me”. Unlike the first game, you can now save and return to your game on any screen.


ODDWORLD: ABE’S EXODDUS — FACTS

Manufacturer: Oddworld Inhabitants

Genre: Action/Adventure

Release Date: December ’98

Special Features: Twice as big as its predecessor; extended Gamespeak; co-operation with other Mudokons; save your game on any screen at any time.