It’s an Odd World!

It's an Odd World! [Hosted by The Oddworld Library]
Date: 14 June, 2002
Interviewer: digital
Interviewee: Lorne Lanning

In the run up to the Xbox European launch, digital speaks to Lorne Lanning, President and Creative Director of Oddworld Inhabitants, about Munch’s Oddysee, the potential of Xbox and the evolution of videogames.

digital: Was it a good dream, the one where you came up with the story for the Abe’s Oddysee franchise?

Lorne Lanning: It was a great dream, though trying to bring it all to reality has at times been a nightmare.

digital: Who was the game developed for, and has anything surprised you in the public’s reaction to Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee?

Lorne Lanning: We’ve always thought of our games as PG‐13 type experiences. We don’t narrow in on a target demographic specifically aimed at the game audience. Instead, we have always tried to create games that will work with this core audience, but also stretch beyond to attract new people to the medium. There have been happy surprises in that there are many new gamers that hadn’t previously tasted our world, but have (since the release of Munch) now become fans.

digital: What single feature or aspect of the Xbox has been most instrumental to the development of Munch’s Oddysee?

Lorne Lanning: Beyond the overall architecture of the Xbox, which is brilliantly structured, the one key feature that is simply loved is the abundance of RAM.

digital: If there was one feature you could add to the game, but can’t yet due to hardware constraints (or time constraints in meeting the fixed launch date of Xbox), what would it be?

Lorne Lanning: It would have been a two player split screen option that would allow two people to cooperatively play Munch and Abe through the story experience. It could have been done on the Xbox, we just didn’t see it early enough in the production to account for this and all of the related impacts on the production process.

digital: How much of the Xbox’s potential do you think have you managed to squeeze out with Munch’s Oddysee, being a first‐generation title?

Lorne Lanning: We’ve probably only tapped about 60 to 70 percent of the Xbox’s graphic power. There is a lot more to be pulled out of the Xbox that will start to show up with later titles—​titles that have been able to conceive new engines knowing that the Xbox is the target system.

digital: Apart from graphics, what do you see as the most important aspect to games—​and why?

Lorne Lanning: The only reason the emphasis is on graphics today is because games are still in an overall early stage of evolution. Any time the emphasis is graphics, or physics, or AI, it’s a sign that the medium is still in its infancy. When the medium matures more, in terms of hardware and content, then the primary emphasis on what makes a game important will be in the overall experience that is delivered by the title.

If we’re to look forward in the near term, the [evolution of] graphics, AI, sound, story, challenge or production design will help the medium to continue to step forward. Eventually, the most compelling experiences will come from the games that synergize all of these aspects together in a smartly designed and cohesive way.