FAQ: Lorne Lanning

FAQ: Lorne Lanning [Hosted by Edge Online]

Date: 04/11/2005

Interviewer: Edge Online

Interviewee: Lorne Lanning

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20051124143709/http://www.edge-online.co.uk/archives/2005/11/faq_lorne_lanni_1.php

Every Friday, Edge Online speaks to a videogame luminary and asks them to answer 20 fixed questions about themselves, the games they play, and their thoughts on the industry.

This week we talk to Lorne Lanning, president and creative director of Oddworld Inhabitants. Shortly after the release of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (9/10, E146), Lanning announced the closure of the development studio he and co-founder Sherry McKenna had opened in 1994, and a new direction for the now-slimmed company. Rather than keeping all production in-house, the new Oddworld studio, re-located in the San Francisco Bay Area, intends to focus its attention on its primary talents – character and story creation – while outsourcing the remainder to external vendors. In addition, Oddworld is looking not only toward new games, but a new future in TV and film.

Edge Online: What was the first game you ever played?

Lorne Lanning: I was a pinball nut first, but when Pong came out, we were all over it and played it for hours on end. We had never seen anything like it. My, how times change.

Edge Online: What was the first computer/videogame machine you owned?

Lorne Lanning: My first game machine was the ColecoVision. My dad worked at Coleco and we got all the games for free.

Edge Online: What was the first thing you ever created for a computer or console?

Lorne Lanning: First program I wrote for a computer… was on the original Mac. It prompted people for their age, then it insulted them.

Edge Online: What was your first job in the games industry and what was the first thing you ever designed?

Lorne Lanning: First job in games industry was Creative Director / President of Oddworld, back when Sherry McKenna and I founded the company, and the game that we started with was Abe’s Oddysee for PlayStation and PC. Before that, neither of us had ever made a game. I had just spent a lot of time studying how games were made, and had a lot of desire to make story driven action games with characters I cared about.

Edge Online: What’s your favourite game ever, and why?

Lorne Lanning: Asteroids. I started playing it when it came out, and I still play it today. Its raw addictive chemistry has never failed to make me continue to want to beat previous high scores. It was simplistically brilliant.

Edge Online: What was the last game you played and what did you think of it?

Lorne Lanning: Last game I played was Psychonauts. A really great game that deserved more attention.

Edge Online: What upcoming game are you most looking forward to?

Lorne Lanning: Shadow of the Colossus. I have a lot of appreciation for games that take a chance and try something truly innovative. Our industry is lacking in innovation today. I’m looking for something breathtaking and new, something that changes the flavor of the experience. While ICO was not a perfect game, the heart and soul that the creators had put into their world was in a class of its own. I appreciate when strong vision and art are found in games that play well. But I admit, I played ICO with the cheat sheets from the beginning because I don’t like being stuck in rooms.

Edge Online: How many hours a week do you spend playing games?

Lorne Lanning: Uhmmm… well, I have to admit that lately, I haven’t touched a joystick since we relocated. We’ve just been extremely busy, but I’ll start again when the 360 comes out, which is also when I hope to unpack my clothes.

Edge Online: What’s your favourite book/album/film of all time?

Lorne Lanning: Favorite album is Pink Floyd’s – Dark Side of the Moon. I love how album’s would occasionally have synergy from beginning to end. More opera like and story driven. Pink Floyd did this with incredible style and substance.

Favorite book is called “Pure War” by Paul Virilio. This book is totally depressing, but frightfully insightful for our modern world.

Favorite film of all time… “Blade Runner : The Directors Cut.” Ridley Scott’s best, IMHO.

Edge Online: Of all the games you’ve been involved in, what’s your favourite, and why?

Lorne Lanning: Stranger’s Wrath was my favorite Oddworld game. It mixed genre styles in a way that made it feel more experiential above and beyond challenging. Building the game and figuring out how it should work… was a lot of hard work, but the crew on it synergized in a way that is quite rare. A lot of people put a lot of sweat and heart into the game, and I think it showed in the end product. Stranger is also the only game I played again after finishing development. I just wanted to experience it with all the bugs out, as a clean play through. I admit, I loved that game, though there are always things wish you had time to change.

Edge Online: What game would you most liked to have worked on?

Lorne Lanning: Civilization II. I would like to have had the insights into the chemistries that ultimately proved timeless and endless. It was a brilliantly conceived game.

Edge Online: What projects are you working on at the moment? What stage are they at?

Lorne Lanning: Sorry, top secret!

Edge Online: What new development in videogames would you most like to see?

Lorne Lanning: Higher speed bandwidth for greater MMO possibilities that could enable high speed action with thousands of players. But more importantly, digital distribution that would enable smaller games to be delivered as episodics, more like comic books.

Edge Online: What annoys or disappoints you about the industry?

Lorne Lanning: The overall lack of vision and balls on behalf of the people who have the power to make a difference.

Edge Online: What do you enjoy most about working in the industry?

Lorne Lanning: The creativity we’ve been afforded in making stories and play styles that our fans have cared about, and having been able to work with great talents that have mutually inspire one another.

Edge Online: Whose work do you most admire?

Lorne Lanning: Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Roger Waters & Jane Goodall.

Edge Online: What new platform are you most looking forward to making games for?

Lorne Lanning: I look forward to the designs that require the processing power of next gen, but not a platform specifically.

Edge Online: What excites you most about next-gen?

Lorne Lanning: Aside from the standard better graphics, stronger online capabilities, etc… I am excited by the interchangeability of databases between film, television and games and the machinima potential that will come out of the next gen. I’m excited to see how the gaming audience uses new mods to create their own stories and worlds.