It is a big day for us at Magog on the March, for we finally take our own place in the annals of the Oddworld Archives with our very first interview. Today we were able to ask a few questions to Stewart Gilray, CEO of JAW Ltd., the man responsible for bringing the Oddworld series back from an extended period of hibernation with the well-received HD Remake of Abe’s Oddysee. Gilray was gracious enough to answer our questions, and we want to thank him for his time and willingness. It was very gracious of him.
Magog on the March: We know that you’re an absolute fan of the original Oddworld games. Fans, however, have noticed that there’s quite a difference in the atmosphere between “New ’n’ Tasty” and the original “Abe’s Oddysee”. We believe this was a deliberate choice, and would like to know if this was an aesthetic decision made by JAW or under Lanning’s advice.
Stewart Gilray: Oh all the changes were directed by Lorne. We put some stuff forward, but the look, feel was definitely driven by Lorne.
Magog on the March: Do you believe that “New ’n’ Tasty” is what “Abe’s Oddysee” was supposed to be if the technology was available at the time?
Stewart Gilray: I don’t know to be honest, it wasn’t something Lorne and I ever spoke about. But I can’t answer for him.
Magog on the March: What do you think was the greatest success of “New ’n’ Tasty”? Conversely, where do you believe the final game could have been improved?
Stewart Gilray: I was pretty happy with the game, I think the greatest success was that the game was as well received as it was, bearing in mind the development team was only 13 or 14 people at JAW, with a couple of other externals. So a very small team. In terms of improvement, I would have loved it to run at 60fps all the time, but that’s just a personal preference.
Magog on the March: What was the origin behind Alf’s Escape? Was it a planned addition to “New ’n’ Tasty” at conception (the rumoured “Alf’s Oddysee”) and a necessary part of the Oddworld story or was it designed to take further advantage of the new assets and engine?
Stewart Gilray: It came out of various conversations, whilst it wasn’t planned at the start, the intention was to have some DLC levels post-release, and that’s what the guys built.
Magog on the March: Where is the special slig that you spoke about in “New ‘n’ Tasty”? Is it, perhaps, the slig boozing at Alf’s Bar, that may or may not be albino? The lighting makes it difficult to tell!
Stewart Gilray: It might be. You know who the albino slig is, don’t you?
Magog on the March: Lorne Lanning has spoken previously about a deleted scene from the original “Abe’s Oddysee” that depicted the Mudokon Moon being formed by a meteor shower as Abe escapes RuptureFarms. Was there ever a discussion to include this scene in “New ’n’ Tasty”?
Stewart Gilray: Not that I can remember, but bear in mind our first discussions on NnT or “Abe HD” were in 2011.
Magog on the March: Feel free to respond to this question: What happened between JAW and Oddworld Inhabitants?
Stewart Gilray: We’d worked with Oddworld for 4–5 years and really wanted a change, a chance to work on something different, and Oddworld wanted to move future development closer to “home” for them. It was a mutual decision.
Magog on the March: We don’t know if you’re aware, but it has recently been announced by Oddworld Inhabitants that the original source code for “Abe’s Oddysee” has been found and a team is currently working on it. Both yourself and Lanning spoke about the abysmal state of the source code in the lead-up to “New ’n’ Tasty”, and we we’re hoping you could share your own experiences trying to crack the code. Additionally, do you personally believe that a version of Abe HD, using the original assets, could ever be possible?
Stewart Gilray: We spent months going through archives and by the time we’d finished we had the source to Exoddus, and the assets for Oddysee, but not the source for Oddysee or assets for Exoddus… If they have found the source for Oddysee, I’m glad and can’t wait to see if they manage anything with them. In terms of an HD version of the original, I really don’t know to be honest. We had 640×480 assets for some of it, but nothing above that resolution.
Magog on the March: With the announcement of “Soulstorm”—a direct sequel to “New ’n’ Tasty” and retelling of the original “Abe’s Exoddus”—the future of the original Oddworld Quintology seems uncertain. We know that you had hoped to see the Quintology finally completed. As both a fan and the man responsible for the rebirth of the Oddworld franchise, what is your take on “Soulstorm” and this new altered Quintology?
Stewart Gilray: I know nothing about Soulstorm other than what’s public, so like you, I’m equally excited to see it and play it. It’ll be fun to play a new Oddworld release that I’ve—we’ve—not been a part of. As for the Quintology, no idea. I WOULD love to see it finished, as a fan.
Magog on the March: How serious were the discussions to finally develop “Hand of Odd” and other abandoned Oddworld games, such as “Fangus”?
Stewart Gilray: Lorne and I spent a lot of travel time talking about Hand of Odd, and we had some ideas for it. I’m not sure if it will ever be un-shelved. As for Fangus, having seen the assets and the project, I would LOVE to have seen it finished, no idea if it ever will though.
Magog on the March: Based on your close relationship with all of the Oddworld archives, out of all the games that never saw the light of day, which one would you love to play the most? Why?
Stewart Gilray: Right now that’s still Fangus, as it was the followup, NOT the sequel to Stranger, and I love Stranger.
Magog on the March: Who is Squeek?
Stewart Gilray: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.