Oddworld’s Inhabitants: Lorne Lanning, Co-founder/President

Oddworld's Inhabitants: Lorne Lanning, Co-founder/President [Hosted by Oddworld.com]

Date: 2000

Interviewer: Oddworld.com

Interviewee: Lorne Lanning

Oddworld’s Inhabitants are as diverse as the world they’ve worked together to create. Here’s where you’ll find interviews and other informative articles spotlighting the many creative folk that work at Oddworld Inhabitants. Be they headline players or behind-the-scenes heroes, the Inhabitants profiled here all share Oddworld’s ceaseless dedication to bringing you the best worlds and games that you’ve ever experienced.

Lorne Lanning,Co-founder/President

Here are a few questions Lorne has been asked recently by the press. We hope they don’t mind if we share some of the best ones with of you…Enjoy!

Q: Who is Munch and where does he come from?

Lorne Lanning: I can tell you that Munch is a Gabbit and that Gabbits are amphibious creatures. He only has one leg, so when he’s on land, he hops. Put him in the water, and he swims like a fish. He has a tongue like a frog and has jaws like a gator. He has an interface port implanted into his head, compliments of two surgery-happy Vykkers scientists. He uses this skull port to jack into technology and remotely control robotic devices. Just as Abe possesses living creatures, Munch possesses mechanical devices. He’s all about rescuing animals from traps, setting them free, then leading them to places where he can nurture them into bigger and better things that he can then use to his greater advantage. Munch’s soul is inspired by those tens of millions of laboratory test animals that we throw away as garbage every year. We thought it would be fun to show how things might look from their point of view. Physically, we wanted a body or a form that was completely different. Something that none of us had ever seen before, yet looked pathetically hip. He had to be stranger looking than Abe, yet still look like something that could actually be alive. It was critical to us that he look organic.

Q: How does Munch meet Abe?

Lorne Lanning: Munch unknowingly foils Abe’s attempt to rescue the Mudokon Mom. The Mudokons are a super species, so Abe’s mom is also mother to thousands of other Mudokons. Biologically, she’s the Queen Mudokon. Emotionally, she’s a wreck.

Q: How does Munch’s Oddysee link to Oddworld games, past and future?

Lorne Lanning: This game takes place after Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus, as all of the five parts to the Quintology will unfold in a linear fashion. The Quintology is basically the story of Abe as he follows the consumer food chain from his third world meat factory to the heart of consumerism in the big city. Each Oddysee game in the Quintology will get us closer and closer to the big city, while each one also introduces a new hero along the way.

Q: What innovations are you working on or do you visualize that will bring games beyond what we’ve already seen?

Lorne Lanning: With Munch’s Oddysee, we’ve been focused on genre merging. We’ve been picking the most fun, functional mechanics from previous genres and then splicing them into a new multi-genre singular experience. We’re now able to have central characters that are even more dynamic than anything on 32 bit (even Mario64), and using their Gamespeak to then control individuals or groups of other characters the way you could previously only do in RTS games. Each member of the group is also completely dynamic, is controllable through possession, can be commanded in real time to do your bidding, and comes with its own Gamespeak and humor commentary.

This emergence of abilities allows for many other new events and circumstances to take place that you couldn’t even think about before. Now you’re putting a whole community into motion and reaping the benefits or consequences of your actions. The environment is not static as it typically has been, but now it’s a character in itself that is susceptible to health changes. These changes have additional benefits or disabilities to the other inhabitants of the world.

Characters that are found in the world can be nurtured into more powerful allies, or be misled to weaken them and cause more of a undermining of their community. The saintly qualities and deviousness that are enabled through Munch’s world open up a whole new sensation to the gaming medium. A new moral dilemma emerges when playing this type of experience.

Q: SoulStorm Brew and the funny bits of the first games were popular, anything like that in store for Munch’s Oddysee?

Lorne Lanning: Munch is loaded with funny bits. We’ve played up consumer products to a whole new level. Even the way you get a lot of power-ups comes from vending machines. Most of the weapons in Munch fire addictive consumer goods, planes drop vending machines instead of bombs, lots of crazy stuff like that. It’s funny on many different levels. One because these are great gags and sarcasm, but on another level because they embody so much of what we know to be disturbingly true.

Q: Is the PC version of Munch’s Oddysee currently in production?

Lorne Lanning: It is in the sense that when you’re building big games like this, you build one first that is considering the technical constraints of other systems. So, even though Munch is scheduled to release first on the PS2, we’ve built most of it on the PC before the PS2 dev stations arrived. Now we’re focussed completely on the PS2 and haven’t been building on the PC for awhile. However, when we get near to finished on the PS2 sku, we’ll convert back to PC also… as well as X-Box. This way, we’re focussed on making the core of the game work to it’s best potential without getting distracted by other platforms. This approach lends itself to better conversion quality.

Q: What are you willing to talk about in regards to The Hand of Odd and how you’ll take the singularly singular experience of Oddworld and translate it into multiplayer?

Lorne Lanning: Hand of Odd is about us using the technology of Munch, enhancing upon it, and bringing it into the multiplayer world of gaming. How many players will be able to interact at one time is still yet to be determined. If we can get 8 players at one time for Hand of Odd we will be happy. It will be enough. If we can get more we will be ecstatic.

Hand of Odd will not be an online community in the way that Everquest or Ultima Online are. But we do plan to take advantage of features like downloadable units that will help to keep the world fresh even after its been out there awhile. Our most important function will be speed. We’ll take advantage of as much as we can until update rates become an issue. There as so many questions that relate to the multiplayer internet capabilities that are yet to be answered technically, that we can’t lock down to the degree that we would like yet.