Paul O’Connor’s posts on the Oddworld Yahoo Group [1999 – 2001]

Date: 08/11/1999


Q: Hi paul, i just read on that gti might be bought by infogrames. i’m sure you can’t really make any comments on this, but i was wondering what that might mean to oddworld inhabitants. i’m a bit of a pessimist, and i can see some other company coming in and telling you what to do with your characters to make them more marketable [put some ewoks in, etc.].

Paul O’Connor: Thanks for your concern. As you noted, I can’t comment in detail, save to say that I have every confidence that Oddworld will be just fine no matter what happens with GT. We’ve always been autonomous, and I have no reason to believe we wouldn’t continue to call the shots ourselves regardless of which company becomes our new partner. It really is a distant, unnoticed background thing here at Oddworld — we’re focused on Munch’s Oddysee; all the other pieces will fall into place on their own. So, really, don’t worry.

Q: also, what’s the status of the oddworld movie?

Paul O’Connor: Continuing in pre-production. There will probably be a theatrical release of the Munch’s Oddysee movies (similar to what we did for Exoddus), but that’s a ways down the line just yet.

Q: one more thing… i once read in an interview with lorne that he wanted each new quintology game to debut on a new platform. i don’t really see the feasibility of this. it’d probably take about 15 years to tell the whole story… and for some reason, i am expecting the 128 bit generation of platforms to have a longer lifespan than we’ve seen before. well, that’s about it. hope to hear back…

Paul O’Connor: Obviously we want our games to reach the widest audience (which means a big installed user base … meaning older machines … is good), but at the same time we really need greater technology than what is available even in 128-bit to do what we really want to do. We develop in a platform independent environment for about 2/3rd of our project, so we can delay our ulitimate platform choice until the market shakes itself out a bit. Can’t say one way or the other what the lifespan of 128-bit machines will be, but if past trends are any indication, you can figure on everything being turned over once every 3-5 years for the foreseeable future.

Date: 09/11/1999


Q: hi. i’m glad to hear that you aren’t worried about the possible aquisition of gti. if you aren’t worried, then i’m not. i hope my comments on the “feasibility [poor choice of words] of future quintology games didn’t come off as rude.

Paul O’Connor: Far from it. Always interested to hear your opinion.

Q: as far as the potential lifespan of 128, i think we’re pretty close to hitting the ceiling as far as what can be done graphically.

Paul O’Connor: Not even close … time will come when you control Toy Story in realtime. Then the time will come when you control Jurassic Park in realtime. But it’s a ways off yet.

Q: i don’t think we’re there yet, not do i think that the 128 gen will be the end of the line, but i’m pretty sure we’ll have the best graphics possible within the next 10 years (ouside of possible holographic gaming systems). correct me if i’m wrong. i mean, you ARE in more of a position to know about these sorts of things. i’m just speaking as a consumer.

Paul O’Connor: My perspective isn’t that different from your own … I’m a designer, so I’m way down at the bottom of the stack insofar as playing with the new technology is concerned. The most advanced video game machine I have at home is a Sega Genesis (and I bought it used).

Date: 10/11/1999


Q: well as long as we’re speculating, what do you think the ultimate incarnation of gamespeak will be? i’m hoping that by that time (playstation 4?) we’ll have headsets, and it’ll be interactive gamespeak; the player can fully interact with the gameworld.

Paul O’Connor: Ultimately the system should evolve to the point where you talk for your characters, and other characters talk to you.

For Munch’s Oddysee the system is being expanded to permit a wider range of emotional expression, while at the same time simplifying the control scheme. We have a system that permits multiple outcomes from just a few inputs. With the real time 3D characters featured in Munch we can show a wider range of emotional and physical responses to GameSpeak.

Q: i thing lorne is one of the true gaming visionaries of today, and i wouldn’t doubt for a minute that this possiblity hasn’t occured to him.

Paul O’Connor: Agreed.

Q: oh yeah, are the inhabitants ready for y2k? i never hear about it in relation to gaming…

Paul O’Connor: I assume our network guys are on it, but I have a case of canned fish under my desk, just in case.

Date: 16/11/1999


Paul O’Connor: Didn’t know if you guys knew about this link or not:

… this is my monthly column on the web. It’s always about Oddworld, and occassionally about Munch.

Date: 20/01/2000


Q: hi paul. just read your newest entry ( the concept drawings are really cool. looks kind of geiger-esque. there seems to be a lot of insect imagery in there. what i’m wondering about is the creature with the mechanical legs. was that an early design for the sligs, or is this something new entirely?

Paul O’Connor: That’s a Vykker’s scientist. They basically torture animals (like Munch) in the name of science. They’re slug-like in their natural form, so they’ve built all sorts of mechanical arms and extensors to help them in their trade.

Q: also, something’s been bothering me about the videos for awhile. the scrab herds… would a race so territorial and helbent on killing each other really be running in herds? guess that’s it.

Paul O’Connor: Good catch. That’s something that bothered us, too … but after kicking it around for awhile, we decided that the Scrabs encountered in the previous game were either:

A) “Dominant,” in the sense that there is only one per herd, and/or
B) Ready to mate, which makes them cranky.

Remember also the Scrabs you saw in the past we trapped in the Temples, which made them half-mad and kinda twitchy.

Conflict between rogue male Scrabs will still feature in the game. Possibly also a clash of Scrab packs.

Q: a belated happy new year to all at oddworld, and to the list.

Paul O’Connor: Thanks again. Glad you’re reading the diaries. I have a new feature coming out in an Italian game magazine; I’ll let the list know if an English magazine picks up a translation.

Date: 20/01/2000


Q: I have a quick question or two Paul… how long was the game (Oddessey) in production before it was finally released?

Paul O’Connor: Oddysee took about 2.5 – 3 years. Much of that time was spent building the software engine and doing character and world design. The hands-on portion of game design probably took around a year. All of Exoddus was done in under a year, but it used the same engine as Oddysee.

Q: How long have you been lead game designer and how on earth did you get such a cool job? I imagine it is something you kind of have to be lucky enough to fall into or be offered or were you working for GT games before you became involved with Odd World?

Paul O’Connor: I published my first game product (a role playing supplement) when I was 18. That would have been 1980 or so. I’ve kicked around the business ever since. I’ve been with Oddworld right since the beginning (around five years). Previously I worked for a software developer called Alexandria (where we did Demolition Man for Sega Genesis, among other titles). Alexandria was subcontracted by Oddworld to work on Oddysee; when Alexandria collapsed most of us just went over to Oddworld.

Q: Although I must admit possessing farts was a bit silly, I can see how doing anything else could have been more difficult to incorporate into the game play.

Paul O’Connor: Yeah, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time …

Q: Again, great job and wonderful ideas, can’t wait to see what’s next!! =)

Paul O’Connor: I just pitched a top secret project, but I can’t say anything about it. You’ll just have to wait …

Date: 21/01/2000


Q: The “thinking” puzzles prevalent in Exoddus made the game much more interesting and fun than the “dexterity” puzzles in Oddysey. I’d prefer to see more of those.

Paul O’Connor: The new engine, being a 3D game, will practically require this. Timing puzzles, jumping puzzles, etc. won’t work as well as they did in 2D. For what it’s worth, it was never our intent to create a twitch game, either with Oddysee or Exoddus, but the games kind of migrated that direction during development.

Q: Perhaps, more interaction with the other species. The ability to ride Elum in the first one was definitely a high point. Almost as enjoyable as the possession of enemy species in the “bonus game” (Exoddus).

Paul O’Connor: Elum will return in Munch’s Oddysee. He was dropped from Exoddus primarily because of RAM cramp. There was no way we could load Abe, Elum, an enemy or two, and the moves & effects needed to do anything interesting all at the same time. Those few scenes where he works in Oddysee were carefully scripted and pretty limited when you break them down. We’ll have more RAM in Munch and we’re looking forward to playing with Elum again. I think he’ll be a much more dynamic character in 3D.

Date: 13/03/2000


Q: anyway, while we’re on the topic of systems, i wonder if the inhabitants are thinking about the x-box from microsoft. i saw the specs today, and if it’s on the level, this will be a truly amazing machine. what do you think, paul? too soon to tell?

Paul O’Connor: I just got back from the Game Developer’s Conference in San Jose, where Microsoft gave the X-Box a big public rollout. The specs are impressive but the box is still off in the future a bit. They don’t plan to release until (I think) Fall of 2001. Certainly we’ll look at the X-Box just as we would any other platform. Options are good for gamers and developers alike. But aside from saying we’re impressed with the specs, and that our lead programmer gave it a big thumbs up, there really isn’t any news at this point.

Date: 13/03/2000


Q: Does that include remarks about Sligs, Slogs and Scrabs? 🙂

Paul O’Connor: You know, we have a programmer here who is convinced the Sligs are the goodguys.

And I did once pitch a bonus game called, “Sligstorm.” Didn’t happen, but you never know.

Date: 13/03/2000


Q: I was curious about the work being done on the sound in Munch’s Oddysee. Audio plays a very important part in a game experience. The sound on the Oddworld chapters so far has been outstanding, but not a vital part of the plot. What can we expect from future Oddworld stories regarding sound?

Paul O’Connor: The sound on our first two games was done out-of-house; for Munch’s Oddysee, we’ve brought the same sound team in-house on a full time basis. You can effectively expect “Sound-Plus,” meaning it will be everything on display in the previous games, plus what is permitted by the greater technical capacity of the new platform. Additionally, Munch is a “musical” character who relies on sound more than Abe to express himself. At minimum, he’ll have musical speech. He may also be able to “mimic” the speech of enemies (to command or confuse them) but this is a feature that might have to be pushed into Munch’s Exoddus, depending on the schedule.

Bottom line is that we’re dedicated to sound and it will be front and center in the new game. I personally believe sound is more important than graphics, but I’m a heretic.

Date: 13/03/2000


Q: one question… when are we gonna see an oddworld rpg? that would be the coolest.

Paul O’Connor: In the traditional sense, probably never.

But role playing elements will be present in Munch’s Oddysee.

Date: 15/03/2000


Q: Okay, so as fans, I know that you may stone me for this but…. I have only played Abe’s Oddessey. So I’m just a ‘newie’, but I bought the second one yesterday!!!!

Paul O’Connor: While I think Oddysee has a better story, Exoddus is by far the better game. It’s better polished, and the group GameSpeak and QuikSave features alone are enough to make it hard to go back to Oddysee after playing Exoddus. In a sense, Exoddus was our chance to “get it right,” applying the lessons we learned from Oddysee.

Date: 15/03/2000


Q: I have to admit, I absolutely LOVED taking them over!!! How can you hate yet another great looking, great moving full of personality character in the game? So after thinking about it, theres nothing bad to say about them! 🙂

Paul O’Connor: While he isn’t a Slig, current plans for the next game call for players to control a Glukkon for extended periods of play; more than mere possession, you’ll be charged with advancing his career inside the Magog Cartel, affording a view of Oddworld from the “other side.”

And you’ll possess plenty of Sligs (and other things) too.

Date: 15/03/2000


Q: So, as usual I have probably missed something major here. Is Oddworld going to appear on PS2 in any shape or form?

Paul O’Connor: Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee is currently in development for Playstation 2.

Date: 15/03/2000


Q: Was there one main person that designed the characters? They did such an awesome job. I have noticed that there are a lot of ‘tenticle/finger-looking/wriggly/yuk looking bits that come out of the bad characters that really suit their personalities if you know what I mean.

Paul O’Connor: The original core character designs (Mudokons, Sligs, Slogs, Glukkons, Elum, etc.) were done by Steve Olds under the direction of Lorne Lanning. Starting with Exoddus, Lorne directed Farzad Varahramyan in that same role, and Farzad has a whole team of guys that work under him. Oddworld has always placed a priority on production design.

Date: 16/03/2000


Q: it strikes me as odd that developers tack lame-ass endings on even some of the best games.

Paul O’Connor: Cost effectiveness enters the equation. Fewer than 1% of the buying public ever sees the end of most games, so spending a lot of time and money on them can be hard to justify.

As a player, though, I agree with you. A friend of mine up at Microsoft said that when he finishes a game, he wants someone to come to his house and hand him a check.

Q: oh yeah, who exactly on the oddworld staff was responsible for “blind ones who couldn’t see”?

Paul O’Connor: Yeah, as opposed to the blind ones who can see, I know.

That was Lorne’s idea. He had this vision of Blind Mudokons and asked if I could make them work in the Exoddus tutorials. My answer was something like, “Uh, OK.” I like the Blind Mudokons but they’re out of place in the first tutorial, as they give you the wrong impression about the Mudokons you’ll meet later in the game … but they wouldn’t work in any of the later venues, so we kind of had to make them work. Not sure yet if you’ll see Blind Muds in Munch.

Date: 16/03/2000


Q: What I am wondering is, could someone explain in non-programming terms what the process is for doing the FMV parts of a game. The way the animation moves as if the ‘camera’ is moving across a landscape etc… How are drawings of, let’s say a character are drawn and animated.

Paul O’Connor: All characters, backgrounds, and buildings exist in our databases as 3D models. Those models are directed to move in specific patterns by our animation software. Cameras can be placed anywhere in the virtual environment, and lenses and other effects are also controlled by the software. Think of it as a big, virtual puppet show. It’s essentially the same process used in effects films like Jurassic Park (only without the living actors).

Q: BTW I LOVE the idea of some scenes flowing into FMV to go to the next scene. It’s BRILLIANT!!!!

Paul O’Connor: These “camera turns” require a lot of planning. The final frame of the movie and the first screen of the gameplay have to match up exactly (because you’re really moving from a movie back to real-time … that little visual “pop” you see at the end of a camera turn is your eye adjusting to the different resolution of movies vs. gameplay). The first screen of a camera turn gameplay area is heavily restricted, because it’s not supposed to feature any characters (which is why they sometimes “flash” into place after a turn; it’s covering up a very jarring pop, because we can’t coordinate the presence of a character in both the game and a movie and expect them to line up perfectly).

Q: I drool over the FMV in Oddworld. I can’t imagine what PS2 will be like with Oddville!

Paul O’Connor: The current movie script features flying labortories, various Oddworld Queen species, a long and dreamy sequence introducing Munch and showing what happened to his people, plenty of creepy stuff with the Vykkers torturers, and more … they should be our best movies to date.

Date: 20/03/2000


Q: I can only stop,crouch and roll, so the scrab get’s me every time and I swear seems more and more smug each time he get’s me. (Probably a little feature Paul added just to peeve me off!!! 😉

Paul O’Connor: Nah, that was Chris Ulm. He still gets flak around the office for his overly-wrought levels.

Date: 20/03/2000


Q: Another question for Paul this time. Any release dates for the next game? I am asking to see if the game will be ready when PS2 is released. Not that I am impatient or anything, but I will need my Oddworld ‘fix’ by then!

Paul O’Connor: Oddworld’s desired release date continues to be “contemporary with the North American release of Playstation 2.”

Date: 20/03/2000


Q: I think it’s really cool that Paul O’Connor is here answering our questions! I’ve been trying to think of some good questions to ask … I guess my main concern is: When is the Oddworld website coming back up? It has always been great in the past and I wish I could go there for all the information available on Munch rather than having to look around Playstation magazine sites and search engines. Perhaps Oddworld Inhabitants could at least post all their press releases there. However, your Designer Diary entries are great! I really look forward to them every month.

Paul O’Connor: The new website should be launching in a couple weeks. Wrote some text for it last month. That “coming soon” page has been up for a long, long time, but we really are working on it.

Date: 21/03/2000


Q: 1. In the Slig section of GameSpeak, the two noises he makes are called “BS” and “S’MO BS”. What do these mean (if anything)?

Paul O’Connor: Nothing specific, but I think they’re used for some of the voice locks later in the game.

Q: 2. In the news reports in the second half of the game, what is it that the reporter Slig says at the beginning? (I think he says different things sometimes, but I could never understand any of it!)

Paul O’Connor: Can’t remember. Might be “News you can abuse,” or something like that.

Q: Also, one thing I was never able to master was the Scrab’s shred power! I’m sure I got it to work a few times but I’m also pretty sure it was never necessary to use it in the game – a normal attack usually sufficed. It sort of felt like it was something added in at the last minute. Did anyone manage to use shred power properly?

Paul O’Connor: I used it quite a bit in testing. If you’re fighting other Scrabs its the only way to make sure the attack comes out in your favor.

Q: A question for Paul – will Fleeches and Slurgs feature in Munch’s Oddysee? They were always the scariest baddies for me! (And Glukkons the funniest since they were so helpless. I loved getting Abe to slap Glukkons over and over since there was nothing they could do about it!)

Paul O’Connor: Fleeches will be there for sure. Not certain about Slurgs. We have to see how they “read” in a 3D environment (because of their size they might get lost on the texture maps of the floors). But rest assured we do have big plans for Slurgs — there is much more to them than you’ve seen so far.

And you’ll also spend a good amount of your time in Munch controlling an incompetent Glukkon as he works his way up the corporate ladder.

Date: 21/03/2000


Q: Why was it decided to go for a game where you don’t have ‘limited lives’? I LOVE this idea! I mean, even if you had limited lives, people would still just use the ‘save’ function anyway.

Paul O’Connor: It was something I pushed for in the early days of Oddysee. My thinking was two-fold:

1) Limited lives are an artifact from the days of arcade game design. In a quarter-dropper you want to kick the player off the game after a couple minutes. The magic formula is to give them just enough play that they’ll put another coin in the machine. Given that our players will be spending their hard-earned bucks on the game, I figured they deserved better than that. It’s YOUR game, now, who am I to tell you when you can stop playing?

2) I knew that we had a big, difficult game on our hands. Like we said in the marketing copy: “You have infinite lives, and you’ll need every one.” The game was big enough to take it. If it was a short game with thin content we might have been tempted to mask that fact with a limited lives concept, but of all the complaints I’ve heard about the game, one I’ve never heard is that they’re too short.

Note that even with unlimited lives, Abe’s Oddysee still came out too difficult. Exoddus adds the Quiksave, and because of that is perceived as an easier game, even though it’s really just as difficult as AO (harder, in parts).

Date: 22/03/2000


Q: I was actually referring to what he says before that. It sounds like, “The magaganamaj,” or something. Can anyone help? (Not that it’s very important, or anything… Just that my friends and I have always wondered.)

Paul O’Connor: Now I remember. It’s “Magog on the March!”, kind of a take off on old newsreels trumpeting “News on the March!”.

Q: Any chance we’ll be possessing Fleeches? I’d love to be on the other end of that tongue for once!

Paul O’Connor: Don’t know if you’ll be possessing Fleeches or not. We kind of draw the line for possession at “intelligent” species (which is why you can possess a Paramite, which is a sophisitcated pack creature, but not a Slog, which is a mindless attack drone). But maybe.

Date: 23/03/2000


Q: I have found that the thing I like about quicksave isn’t the perceived fact that it makes the game easier. What I like is, it takes most of the frustration out and you can enjoy the game more, (unless I have got so into the game I have forgotten to save 🙂 I hated going back through a challenge I had already conquered, then get stuck on it and the more frustrated I got, the more mistakes I would make.

Paul O’Connor: Glad you liked the Quiksave. When we first pressed for the feature, our programmer said it “couldn’t be done.” Then he said, “maybe.” Then he worked on it for about six weeks, and bingo — quiksave. It was the make or break feature of the game, from a technical standpoint. Very challenging for the programmers.

Date: 27/03/2000


Q: Hey Paul, are you in the cool old fashioned photo of the team?

Paul O’Connor: Yes, I’m in both the team photos. In Oddysee I’m in the middle, standing next to Lorne. In Exoddus I’m out on the side someplace.

Date: 27/03/2000


Q: Are there any screen shots from the next game yet? Or any pics of future characters?

Paul O’Connor: Here’s something that was posted on Friday:

Date: 03/04/2000


Q: So, are the voices in the game directly from the recording of Lorne’s voice? Or is there a lot of editing and digital alterations (or whatever) done?

Paul O’Connor: Lorne does the voices in our on-site sound booth, then they undergo some digital processing. Some voices are virtually unchanged (like the Abe voice, or the Glukkon voices) while others are changed by various effects (Slig voices, for instance).

Q: And was there any reason that Abe’s voice was changed from Oddysee to Exoddus?

Paul O’Connor: I’m pretty sure we changed to a different compression scheme to save space. Some of the voices you hear in Exoddus are the same as in Oddysee, but the compression makes them sound different. Our sound guy, Josh, also did some (uncredited) voice work in Oddysee, so it’s possible the particular sound byte you liked was from him, which is why it sounds different in Exoddus (which was all Lorne).

Date: 03/04/2000


Paul O’Connor: Part of what you’re sensing is that there was never supposed to be an Exoddus. The original plan was to go straight from Abe to Munch. Some guys on the team (myself among them) pushed for the chance to do Exoddus because we wanted a chance to work with a more mature version of the Abe engine. It also made sense from a business perspective (to amortize the cost of that original development with a new title), and it let the platform situation for Munch sort itself out a bit (PS2, etc.).

Anyway, Lorne’s story plans didn’t include Exoddus, so we had to create a tale that fit “inside” the envisioned continuity. We also didn’t want to do something that was exactly the same as Oddysee, so we opted for a different tone in the story.

Another thingk on display here is Oddworld’s (internally) changing attitude toward the material. The first iteration of Abe — when he was a monk in a quasi-religious order, and the Glukkons were terror priests, etc. — was quite a bit darker and more serious than even the first Abe game. As we’ve worked with the property we’ve consistently lightened things up while still dealing with serious subjects. Munch’s Oddysee should be closer to Abe’s Oddysee in this regard, but will still have a quirky approach to serious issues.

Date: 04/04/2000


Q: Since this time round you already know that there’s going to be a Munch’s Exoddus, have you already planned a story for it? Or are you going to work that out once Munch’s Oddysee is completed?

Paul O’Connor: Chris Ulm and I are developing the story for Munch’s Exoddus right now. We have the broad strokes figured out but there’s still plenty of detail work to be done.

Q: In fact, how well is the Quintology story worked out? Do you (or Lorne) already know who the five characters are going to be?

Paul O’Connor: The Quintology is definitely Lorne’s show. I think he has a pretty firm, conscious idea of what will happen with Squeak’s Oddysee, and an outline idea of what happens after that. He does have a firm idea of how the whole thing ends, and I’m sure he could go on at length about the fourth and fifth characters, too, but I haven’t pressed him on anything. I’ve learned that the best way to collaborate with Lorne is to let him pursue his own methods. When he’s ready for the rest of us to pitch in, we’ll know it.

Date: 17/04/2000


Q: And are Meetles those weird eight-legged creatures with sideways faces, or those weird blimp creatures in the video where the Slig runs up the ladders?

Paul O’Connor: Both! Meetles begins as grubs, and depending on what you feed them and how you train them, they can take several forms.

Date: 17/04/2000


Paul O’Connor: Shameless self-promoiton.

Besides, it has my picture, and everything.

Date: 18/04/2000


Q: Yes, I’ve read about how Munch’s Oddysee will “simulate life cycles”(or something similar) and seen the videos with the seasons changing… Does this mean that the game stretches over a very long time on Oddworld? Whereas it seems the first two games each take place all at once.

Paul O’Connor: Munch’s Oddysee takes place over a longer time, but those visualizations that you saw — the water draining, etc. — will be accelerated inside the game so you can perceive cause and effect. Not much fun to watch a tree grow in true time.

The game is partitioned off into self-sustaining worlds where players can mess around as long as they wish. There will be a plot and a set of objectives, and if you like you can just jump through the required hoops as rapidly as possible … or you can slow down and tinker with the world, and the environment, and the creatures.

Date: 19/04/2000


Q: I saw this at – “Basically, Munch’s Oddysee will be a 3D Abe’s Oddysee. To keep money raking in, Oddworld Inhabitants will release another non-quintology game, Oddworld: Alf’s Oddysee.” Is this complete rubbish, or have I missed something?!

Paul O’Connor: They’re confused. Munch’s Oddysee, while a 3D game, is much larger in scope than Abe’s Oddysee, so it isn’t fair to characterize Munch as “Abe 3D.” There will be a _level_ inside Munch that is basically Abe 3D, because it features Abe on his own in a factory environment, so we plan kind of an homage there … but overall it will be a significantly new and different play experience.

Q: Also, on a fan page it was mentioned that upcoming bonus games included Hand of Odd, Munch’s Exoddus and SligStorm! SligStorm isn’t happening, is it?!

Paul O’Connor: Hand of Odd is our Real Time Strategy game.

Munch’s Exoddus will probably be the next game we do after Munch’s Oddysee.

SligStorm is vapor. It’s a title I made up when pitching a bonus game for a proposed Abe’s Oddysee/Abe’s Exoddus omnibus re-release for Sony Playstation. SligStorm was going to be a brief game where you played an outcast, albino Slig grub that needed to blast it’s way out of a Slig birthing complex. The window to do that particular game closed about a year ago, as we’re now firmly committed to PS2 …

Date: 19/04/2000


Q: How often are there E3s, and where are they? Are they open to the public? Does this mean that in five weeks, people will be able to go and play a demo of Munch’s Oddysee?!

Paul O’Connor: E3 is a yearly show, usually in mid-May. It will probably remain in Los Angeles for the next couple years (the two-year experiement in Atlanta didn’t work out). It is only open to the trade.

There won’t be a _public_ demo of Munch’s Oddysee, but Lorne will be showing off a playable demo behind closed doors to members of the press, etc. There might be some video of the game on the main floor at the Sony booth, but we’re still working that out.

Q: I thought the pictures were really cool. The Kinto Slaves picture had all this text on it, and I always think that if I magnify the image I’ll be able to read it but I just got a whole lot of blurry scribble, as usual. How frustrating!

Paul O’Connor: “Munch: Kinto Slaves. Kintos were a peaceful race of mountain dwellers. Agile climbers & able to jam their single powerful toe into any crack & able to scale any rock face. Kintos never like anything ove their heads — nothing — no tree branches, no shelters, no hats. Maybe this is why they have no discernible heads. They only sleep and live outdoors, under the vast sky. It is only ‘natural’ that Glukkons would take such a race, enslave them, mostly indoors, & force them to carry heavy loads on their heads & backs.”

Note that some or all of this backstory will change before we ship the game.

Date: 19/04/2000


Q: That would have been AWESOME! You think a lot like me! That sounds like the kinda game I would like. Sounds like lottsa fun!

Paul O’Connor: The idea was to package Abe’s Oddysee & Exoddus in a promotional box, and include a bonus CD with some “making of” features and the Sligstorm bonus game. The bonus game would have been something like 50-100 screens (maybe the size of the Slig Barracks from Exoddus, give or take). We would have built the game using the Exoddus engine, with a few enhancements (probably no infinite lives, for example). Maybe a couple minutes of story to tie it together.

But like I said, that window has closed. We’re on to PS2 development now, and I’m not sure we could even revert to the old engine if we wanted to. It’s kind of like asking NASA to rev up a Saturn V for a return trip to the moon. It’s old technology and our infrastructure no longer supports it.

Date: 20/04/2000


Q: I was wondering if the design of the Oddworld games (or any games, for that matter) is limited by the PlayStation controllers. After all, Abe’s Oddysee already made good use of all the buttons on the controller. For Abe’s Exoddus the crouch/roll and fart controls were combined on a single button to make room for more GameSpeak. Won’t it get more and more difficult to be able to let the characters do a wider variety of things using the same controller? Do you ever run out buttons and so decide against incorporating some extra feature into the game?

Paul O’Connor: Yes.

It’s been a continual struggle to simplify the controls. We got everything down to one action button, but then the damn GameSpeak ballooned everything up again. An upcoming designer diary will address this issue in greater detail.

Q: I once heard (I’m not 100% sure it’s true) that the makers of Pod Racer (the Star Wars Episode One N64 game) were originally planning to have players control the pod racers using TWO N64 controllers, one in each hand! But they ultimately decided against it because it would be too difficult. So it occured to me that this could be a way of having more buttons to use!

Paul O’Connor: Probably sounded like a good idea until they tried it.

Simpler controls are always better. Oddworld hasn’t always observed this wisdom, but we’re working on it.

Date: 20/04/2000


Paul O’Connor: Here are some fan sites to browse while you’re waiting for the official OW site to re-launch in a week or two:

The last site has a link to an Oddworld discussion group you guys might want to join … or maybe you’d like to promote this list to that site owner, and try to grow the community a bit.

Date: 03/05/2000


Q: Land will be fertile if it hasn’t been polluted and if the rains are still coming. But if the land has been raped and is barren of water or trees, then the life forms that live on the land will come into hard times, reproduce less often, etc. It’s critical to us that the gamer has responsibility over the landscape. The gamer’s actions, or lack of actions, will influence the state of the landscape and, as a result, influence the availability of resources and the behavior of the lands’ inhabitants.In the Abe games, each puzzle was set in separate small gauntlets so that if you mucked up you could just go back a few screens and try again. But it sounds here as if the things you do have far-reaching effects. Does this mean that if you get stuck somewhere in Munch’s Oddysee you could potentially have to go back quite a distance in the game?

Paul O’Connor: This kind of strikes at the heart of the death/reset design of the game. When a character dies (and there will still be infinite lives in Munch’s Oddysee), what is re-set with that character? The whole world? Part of the world? Does it make sense to let the character die and re-set, but not do the same thing with enemies (a problem, because then you could get rid of enemies while dying yourself, which doesn’t seem quite right). Where does the dynamic world model fit into this same scheme…?

The short answer: we don’t know yet, not exactly.

What we do know: the game will be broken up into a series of regions, each of which will have it’s own dynamic world factors. It could be that these world simulation elements will continue apace regardless of player death/re-set. Or it could be that they will re-set along with the rest of the world condition (enemies, quests, etc.) when the character is restored. We have to build a couple regions and play them in context before we’ll know which way to go … but be assured that we’re thinking about it.

Again, Justin, an excellent question. You’re thinking like a designer!

Date: 11/05/2000


Q: I was surprised to read that there would be a REDUCED number of button combinations devoted to GameSpeak, while I had actually hoped for more! Admittedly, even after playing Abe’s Exoddus for countless hours I still get Abe’s eight phrases all mixed up, so I can see why it might be desirable to have less. But I guess I just want the GameSpeak to be more complex because it’s more fun and interesting. Well, I trust Oddworld Inhabitants to make the right choices.

Paul O’Connor: We’re trying to simplify all our controls, but it seems a truism in video game design that the interface expands to meet the buttons available. The good fight continues.

Q: Another “interview” had Lorne saying that there would be at least one Oddworld game per year! Yippee! You know, I’m beginning to wonder if Lorne Lanning has EVER actually been interviewed. All the “interviews” seem to have bits from all the other “interviews” which makes no sense, because if they all got their quotes from the same source, why wouldn’t all of them be identical? It’s really confusing when I find another “interview” because I can’t tell whether or not I’ve read all of it before.

Paul O’Connor: You found us out. Lorne’s body was destroyed in motorcycle accident eighteen months ago. Only his brain survives, in a jar — he directs us with a binary light display activated by his brainwave. We reconstruct bits of Lorne’s schtick from past performances for his “interviews.”

Date: 11/05/2000


Q: okay, back on topic. the new videos absolutely RAWKED. and i get to wait another four or five months? WAAAAAAH!!!! this sucks!

Paul O’Connor: HA! Wait until stuff starts to leak out about the e3 demo. Saw the “final” on Monday, and wow …

Date: 16/05/2000


Q: how was your trip, paul? see anything you’re excited about? hope you enjoyed yourself.

Paul O’Connor: Well, I hate trade shows, but that’s neither here nor there.

I saw precious little at e3 … some of the EA Sports titles look very nice, and in general everything is bigger, faster, smoother, and better lit, but I saw no real content break-throughs. Oddworld showed well, people were enthused, mission
accomplished (now we just have to deliver).

Date: 17/05/2000


Q: well… this new news from e3 confuses me.have you guys not made up your mind about ps2, or what?

Paul O’Connor: We generally develop independent of platform. It takes us about a month to move from our development environment to the specific environment of any given platform. This lets us keep our options open. As far as the target platform for Munch is concerned, all I can say is that the situation is still fluid, and I’m not privy to the latest details. In the meantime, development work on the game continues without delay, and isn’t influenced by target platform considerations, nor will it be until we’re very close to completion.

Date: 19/05/2000


Q: Anyway … I’d write something pertaining to Oddworld if I had half a brain, a standard I am nowhere close to at the moment. I’ve spent the entire night working on complicated trigonometrical proofs of geometry problems. I have a lot I want to discuss about Munch but for the past few days I haven’t felt coherent enough to bother.

Paul O’Connor: OK, well here’s a sneak preview.

I’m writing the game play treatment for Region 11 right now. This is a “Lulu quest” from the middle third of the game. The overall premise is that Munch & Abe have gained possession of an incompetent Glukkon named Lulu. They need to get Lulu promoted up the ladder so they can use him as a means of getting back into Vykker’s Labs. Region Eleven places Lulu in command of Flubco Fat Fuels, an inefficient fuel refinery on the fringes of the Magog Cartel. Munch and Abe first have to sneak through the Mudflub Pens to reach the facility, then Munch has to swim through a really disgusting fat tube to get into the place. Then, Munch and Abe have to find Lulu, and put him to work organizing the plant … which basically involves diverting the flow of fuel to the tank farm on the hill above the Facility. When the tanks fill up, the Magog Cartel promotes Lulu … but now our heroes can decide what to do with all that explosive fuel perched on a hill above the Facility.

DISCLAIMER: This venue is in the rough draft phase, and may not make it into the game.

But it is a snapshot of what I’m working on.

Date: 19/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: We have two games in print for the Playstation:

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus

No further Playstation games are in development.

Our next title: Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee will appear on a platform or platforms still to be determined (and the PS2 is one of the platforms under consideration).

There are also two Gameboy games featuring Oddworld (Oddworld Adventures 1 & 2) but they were done by another developer and my experience with them is limited.

Date: 22/05/2000


Q: Pity you’re not going to make SligStorm, though. Will we still see slig larvae and the slig nursery complex?

Paul O’Connor: Not in Munch’s Oddysee. Maybe Munch’s Exoddus …

Date: 22/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: We handed out bottled water with an Oddworld logo at an e3 a couple years ago. And I still have a bottle or two of the Oddworld brew we made at a local microbrewery for the wrap party on Exoddus.

Date: 22/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: The stuff must taste like turpentine by now. No preservatives (it’s Oddworld, right?)

Date: 22/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: I have a crate full of Oddworld swag that we’ve created for wrap parties, etc. I plan to hold onto the stuff for a dozen years or so, then auction it off to put my kids through college.

either that, or a big bonfire.

Date: 23/05/2000


Q: Thanks for the cool sneak preview, Paul! “…what to do with all that explosive fuel…” The mind boggles at the possibilties! Oh yeah, since seem to have completely overhauled their site, I’m not sure where to find the Munch’s Oddysee designer diaries. I still have the old URL but I’m not sure whether they’ll update that page or the new one (if one exists). And is the PlayNOW designer diary still continuing?

Paul O’Connor: I’m still sending out Designer Diaries twice a month, so I assume they’re being posted somewhere. Let me check and I’ll get back to you.

Q: I think I read in one of those “interviews” that Munch’s Oddysee would take approximately 50-60 hours to finish if you zoomed through … This figure doesn’t really mean much to me. Could you tell us how big you think the game will be compared to Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus? I’ve heard so much stuff about this game that it sounds like it must be absolutely huge!

Paul O’Connor: It’s really hard to say because we don’t have a hard count of game screens like we did in the previous games. About the best means we have of measuring is regions, of which Munch currently has about twenty. A region is probably equal to about 1.5 or two levels of an Abe’s Exoddus type game (meaning the meaty mid-game levels, like Bonewerks or Slig Barracks). We had — what — maybe eight or ten of those levels in Exoddus? Can’t remember. So, by that math, Munch’s Oddysee should be 2 – 2.5 times longer than Abe’s Exoddus. But that’s the roughest possible estimation at this point.

Date: 23/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: There’s a give and take. OW did a commercial for Abe’s Oddysee that was never aired (I think it made it onto Abe’s Exoddus as a bonus video … it’s the one where Abe is cringing in his cell while being interrogated by the “Shrink” .. the multi-armed TV faced creature). The broadcast ad for Abe’s Oddysee used only footage from the game and was cut together out of house.

the Abe’s Exoddus spot had some original footage that we did in-house, and I know we had oversight of the spot, but beyond that I’m not sure what our involvement was. Ad placement is a political issue — the developer always wants more, and the publisher has to watch the bottom line and consider the other games they’re trying to promote at the same time.

Date: 23/05/2000


Q: I was browsing through a bookshop the other afternoon and saw a book about the “Star Wars” universe. Inside were pages and pages of conceptual art and some text about the design principals of all the factors that make up Star Wars. The art was amazing and I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be cool if Oddworld Inhabitants produced a book like this, with lots of art and text on Oddworld ethics.” So when Oddworld becomes more popular, do you think a book similar to this would ever be considered putting together?

Paul O’Connor: We’d love to do a book like this. I think Farzard’s stuff (and that of the other Production Designers) is absolutely jaw-dropping, and deserves this kind of spotlight. Someday, I’m sure.

Date: 23/05/2000


Paul O’Connor: The visualizations you saw were almost certainly running on the PC. We had the PS2 playable demo on hand at e3 but I don’t think there’s any footage of it on the web. The visualizations were created inside the game engine, using our in-game movement and camera code, but were choreographed for purposes of demonstration.

Date: 30/05/2000


Q: How could I have not asked this question before? What I want to know is – what role, if any, will farts play in Munch’s Oddysee?! First they were used as passwords, then as explosives … what next? I guess I won’t be TOO disappointed if the answer turns out to be that farting has been taken out, as I suspect may be the case…

Paul O’Connor: Unknown at this time. Lorne feels we overdid it last time and has been leaning toward taking it out, but if we come up with a good purpose for it, then it will stay.

Date: 01/06/2000


Q: Thanks for checking that out for me! What’s Geekend?!

Paul O’Connor: Two things. First, the new diary is up at Gamespot:

Second, the GeekEnd is our annual weekend-long boardgame and drinking contest, attended by most everyone at Oddworld, and others from distant parts of the globe. There will be coverage of the event on the Oddworld website sooner or later (maybe as soon as next week). It starts tomorrow. If anyone on the list is a) 21 and older, b) in Central California this weekend, c) wants to play boardgames, and d) can send me e-mail by 6:00 Pacific Time tonight, I’ll give you directions.

Date: 21/06/2000


Q: I guess this question is directed mainly at Paul. I’m getting a feeling that the violence in Oddworld has been toned down quite a bit and all the weapons to be used are consumer based. Is this true? I sure hope not, I wish the violence would stay or intensify. I don’t know how the adrenaline will get pumpin’ if I’m running away from a Brew-Pistol. Where will be the fun if I am not fearful for my life? Thanks.

Paul O’Connor: We had our own doubts about the Consumer Products Weapons, too, but after seeing the visualizations I think Lorne is onto something special.

As far as “being fearful for your life” is concerned … Abe will still “die” when struck by an attack, returning to play in a cloud of birds, exactly as before, so the penalty/reward system of previous games will be unchanged.

Date: 21/06/2000


Q: Hey! The third PlayNOW! Oddworld Game Design Diary is finally up: Haha! I thought it was pretty funny. I never would have thought such an argument could arise over jumping, but now I can see what a problem it is! So which side of the argument were you on, Paul?

Paul O’Connor: I think I was against free jumping. But mine was really a Devil’s Advocate position where I was trying to make a stand against expanding the control interface.

Jumping is in, by the way.

Q: I guess it’s a compliment to your article that I find myself unable to take a side. Although jumping IS fun! I can see how it wouldn’t be as important in a 3D game where you can just walk around things. And I suppose ladders have replaced all the hoisting?

Paul O’Connor: At the moment, we have ladders in place both as a means for Abe to scale vertical surfaces, and as a means of separating Abe and Munch, as Munch’s arms are too short to use ladders. Conversely, Abe can’t swim, but Munch can.

This may change.

Date: 22/06/2000


Q: So, is that FREE jumping, wherever I like, whenever I like? Will I get to “spring into the air with multiple somersaults”?!

Paul O’Connor: Free jumping. Number of sumersaults is still … er … up in the air.

Date: 22/06/2000


Q: i’ve been wondering how well munch will swim with that big ol’ gut.

Paul O’Connor: I’ve seen guys with a gut that shows up on satellite move like eels in the water.

I saw the rough (low poly) version of the opening movie the other day, with Munch and the other Gabbits swimming the ocean, and it looked pretty good.

Date: 28/06/2000


Paul O’Connor: Our PC ports have always been done out of house. I’m not sure what our plans are for a PC port of Munch’s Oddysee.

Date: 17/07/2000


Q: p.s. long as we’re talkin about character design here… paul, tell lorne he needs to give farzad verisimilitude (yeah, YOU try sayin’ it) a big fat raise… he’s earned it.

Paul O’Connor: Farzad is a genuine genius, and a very, very nice guy on top of it. Working with him is a joy. We’re meeting for lunch twice a week to go over details of Munch’s Exoddus, and those meetings are always the high point of my week.

I’ll pass along your warm words.

Date: 17/07/2000


Q: I have a question for Paul; a long time ago I read that Munch’s full name is “Latamire Munch”, does his name still contain “Latamire” in it because I haven’t seen anything with referrence to it for quite a while.

Paul O’Connor: Munch’s first name is quasi-officially still Latamire, but we aren’t pushing it in any of the advertising, as “Munch” just reads better.

Date: 20/07/2000


Q: I believe it was written a while back that there would be a new control mechanism in MO. The characters would be “aware” of their environment as you moved them, i.e. if you were trying to go through a door the character automatically know where to walk as you got close to it, or if there was a switch the character would automatically position itself to use it. Is this still in the game in some respect? It sounded like it would be difficult to implement properly without created more trouble than it was worth. Is there going to be a toggle button perhaps, one which would enable this “awareness” whenever the player wanted it? It would be annoying if you were running from a slig and passed a switch, causing your character to stop and reposition itself, and then getting shot to death. (scratch annoying, that’d just plain suck!)

Paul O’Connor: It was actually one of the first things that went into the game. It’s really subtle (none of the override problems you mentioned). We don’t really talk about it, but we know it’s working, because people come away from the game saying “that’s the first time I was able to really control a game like that,” but they don’t know why …

Date: 20/07/2000


Paul O’Connor: Farzad’s reaction, upon reading the mail posted here a week ago about his deserving a big raise for his production design work, was characteristically modest:

Hi Paul,

Thank you very much for the mail and your friend’s enthusiasm. However
the truth of the matter is that the raise should go to Mr. Steve Olds.

I love that guy.

Date: 24/07/2000


Q: All I want for Christmas (other than Munch’s Oddysee) is an ODDWORLD LEVEL EDITOR!!! I was just thinking today how cool it would be to be able to design your own Oddworld levels (whether using the Abe engine or the Munch engine). Now I’d hate to be one of those people who writes to Oddworld saying, “I think you should make a game where you’re a Scrab who eats Sligs and Abe has this funny burp which makes Paramites turn into Slurgs,” but I was just wondering what Oddworld Inhabitants’ opinion on this matter was. I can see that there might be lots of reasons not to make a level editor (apart from the huge technical challenge and amount of time it would take up) but do you think we’ll ever see an Oddworld level editor of any form?

Paul O’Connor: I doubt we’ll ever release a level editor at this point, primarily because we’re using off-the-shelf tools to build our levels. The designers are using 3D Studio Max for most things, and while it is a heavily modified version, it still isn’t the kind of stripped-down, propriatary editor that people think about when they say they want an editor with a game. There’s also the issue of technical support (which really balloons with editors), and the fact that we have to test (etc.) and editor as much as the game content, but very few players actually use them …

If we end up building a whole new editor for Hand of Odd, I could see it being included in the game, but right now the chances of seeing a level editor for Oddworld anytime soon are pretty slim.

for what it’s worth, I did see a page last week where somebody had created a Slig for Quake …

Q: There’s a new video at Gamespot which includes a bit from the opening movie of Munch’s Oddysee. However I can’t watch this at all because they only have it as a streaming video which is impossible to see anything of, with my internet connection. Also I heard of some E3 pamphlets (and other things) being sold on ebay. Is there any chance that these things could be made available at the Oddworld website? (And is there someone else we could write to directly concerning the website, so I don’t have to bother you with these things?)

Paul O’Connor: I was shocked to see the price fetched by that brochure on ebay … I have all my Oddworld swag in a box in the basement. Maybe I’ll sell it some day and put my kids through college. I have some genuinely unique stuff … Oddworld microbrews from old wrap parties, an original “baby Abe” drawing Farzad did for the birth of my son — man, if an e3 brochure can go for sixty bucks three months after the show, what will my stuff be worth in twenty years?

I doubt the pamphlets will show up on the site — I think we gave ’em all away.

Date: 25/07/2000


Q: Just wondering, are the alpha or beta dates for Munch’s Oddysee any time soon? Already past? Yeah, and will there be an early demo release like there was for Exoddus? It was cool that we got to play Exoddus like a beta test. This allows OWI to test the game better, cause the fans are usually the most nit-picking group of game testers out there. If there’s something wierd, we’ll find it!

Paul O’Connor: We have an internal deadline for a playable demo by mid-August. I don’t know if our publisher intends to distribute the demo or not. This will be a pretty brutal month for the OW team. Pulling together a demo is always a force march.

Date: 25/07/2000


Q: Will there be a game in the quintology that starts completely from scratch? A game that would take place in a completely new section of Oddworld, one unreachable by the Mudokons, Glukkons, Sligs, etc. If there is supposed to be a new “chosen one” (like Abe, Munch) for each quintology game, where are you guys going to get 3 more unique species? I think it would be interesting if there was a game that told the story of an altogether different conflict taking place on a remote part of Oddworld. There would be no mention of the Mudokon-Glukkon conflict at all until the end of the game, perhaps, when it is tied together with the main Oddworld plotline. Has this sort of concept played into any of your future plans?

Paul O’Connor: We discussed something similar for Hand of Odd. At one point, the game was going to be set in Oddworld’s past, a generation or so before the events of Abe’s Oddysee. It’s still possible we might go that direction, but we’re pretty heavily invested in Abe’s story, and at this point I think the plan is for each Quintology title to continue the same general narrative, although we’ll be jumping around quite a bit on Oddworld itself, featuring some new (and I think unexpected)characters and locations in future games.

Q: I also want to thank you, Paul, for being so dedicated to the questions of your fans. It’s designer/consumer relationships like these that make playing videogames worthwhile. Thanks.

Paul O’Connor: It’s my pleasure. Feedback from people who love Oddworld make our late nights and long weekends worthwhile.

Date: 26/07/2000


Q: just tease us will you… someone asks if y’all are near alpha or beta, and your answer is “yup”. grrr. which is it?

Paul O’Connor: Alpha and Beta are still in the future. The dates are a matter of internal company policy so I can’t go into them here … but … I promise you that when we make our Alpha and Beta (and Gold) I’ll announce it here on the list.

Right now the big deadline is late August for the demo disc.

Q: I also wish to second the gimpish one’s thanks for your involvement in this egroup. i’ve read a few little profile thingies with people who’re involved in oddworld, and the quote (or at least paraphrase) which most comes up is “i’ve never worked on a project like this, where i could…” well, what i’m wondering is, have you ever worked on a game where you had this level of interaction with the fans?

Paul O’Connor: No … but I think that’s more a function of the growth of the internet than any reflection on the games and other things I’ve done. I guess that’s not fair — Oddworld is by far the most popular project I’ve been associated with, which means we have a big audience — but access is also unprecidented these days. Back in my comics days I’d get fan letters every once in awhile, but without the immediate response afforded by e-mail it was difficult to maintain contact.

All of Oddworld is delighted with the support of our fans … it means everything to us that people care so much about the games, the characters, and the world. Seriously.

Date: 28/07/2000


Q: Is there gonna be a new targeting mechanism for Abe? In Oddysee, you possessed whoever was closest to you, even if that wasn’t who you wanted to. With the addition of another dimension, this problem might become more noticeable. How is possession targeted?

Paul O’Connor: Our paper solution is to limit a character to possessing the closest legal target that he can see. We’ll probably tweak it after we see it in the prototype. We might allow the player to select his target as part of an advanced character skill set.

Q: Also, what kinds of new objects and or weapons are we going to get to use? Those spears would be fun, but I don’t think Abe is the warrior type… Is there going to be an inventory? Are bombs, rocks, bones, and meat still the staple of Abe’s weaponry, or are there new devilishly clever things to toss around?

Paul O’Connor: No inventory, but there will be things you can throw (and eat, in the case of power-ups). Abe won’t use weapons.

Q: One of Munch’s abilities is swimming… will this be explored as a means to expand the gameplay of Oddworld, or is it simply an ability used to solve puzzles. I mean, are there going to be levels where everything is underwater, involving a whole new system of gameplay? I envision swimming in a vast and beautiful ocean, with strange fish, huge behemoths, and intwined plantlife drifting around me. I need to find an entrance to a Glukkon sewer pipe, but to do so, i have to navigate through the twisted ocean bottom of Oddworld’s seas. Is something like this anywhere in Munch?

Paul O’Connor: Probably no underwater play in Munch’s Oddysee, but we’re just getting the water stuff in now, and it looks good, so you never know.

Q: What is the definition of a “level” used in Munch’s design anyway? Is the game going to be a continuous world where the player can visit old environments whenever they please, or will it be more similar to the first 2 games where each level is a separate chapter in itself, and there are distinct boundaries beyond which the player can’t traverse. Let’s say I am deep in the middle of a Glukkon factory, having infiltrated it in order to shut it down. Would I be able to drop everything, sneak back out, and travel back to the mudokon village that I had come from? Or am I stuck in the factory until I achieve certain objectives?

Paul O’Connor: Think of a level as a chapter, but the chapters are BIG. For instance, everything you mention above could easily fit into a single “level” as they are currently envisioned.

Date: 06/08/2000


Q: About the demo (which is hopefully going to be finished by the end of this month!) – is this something we will be able to download from the OW website and play on our PCs? Or is it going to be distributed with PlayStation magazines on demo discs?

Paul O’Connor: I’m not sure what the publisher intends for the demo. Our primary goal is to create something that Lorne can demonstrate for the press, but we’re also trying to make it a “playable” that could be distributed via magazines, etc. At least we’d like to have that option. Right now, from a design standpoint, it isn’t a demo so much as a walk-through — that is to say, there are few gameplay challenges, puzzles, etc. You can move the caracters around and get a feel for things but there isn’t any formal gameplay (yet … maybe by the end of the month).

Date: 07/08/2000


Q: I must say, the Gabbit school was really cool. Looks like the Glukkons catch ’em like tuna, with big nets.

Paul O’Connor: We just got the latest version of Munch swimming into the game, including a graceful dolphin-like jump and plunge, and it’s fun all by itself, so water play is looking good.

Date: 07/08/2000


Q: Hi Paul… I was going to ask about whether Munch would be having any swimming play like many games are now… but you have pretty much answered that part of the question!!! However, what types of scenarios will we see in the swimming scenes… e.g. will we see Munch having to save anyone underwater, or will there be enemy creatures underwater to avoid?

Paul O’Connor: Unknown right now. We’ve only just gotten in the water play, and we have to feel our way forward from here. I don’t think there will be any UNDERwater play, but there will be plenty of stuff on the surface, and Munch does dive back down into the water after executing his dolphin jump … so I could see having to dive for stuff on the bottom, and jump up out of the water and over things, but we’ll see what develops.

Q: Also, will there be any limitations on the time spent underwater, as I really hate games where you have to surface before the “timer” runs out!

Paul O’Connor: No timers or oxygen meters or anything like that. Stay in the water as long as you like.

Q: Finally, will the swimming be easy to control, as I have found that is a problem w/ some games that have underwater play… they are very difficult to control.

Paul O’Connor: The controls are like silk. Truly amazing.

Date: 07/08/2000


Q: Heh, the title is a total lie, there’s no Ode in here. I was just surprised that there’s more people out there who like the night as I do. If you’re in my timezone, Paul, in California then I’m assuming you’re a nite person. Either that or those OWI taskmasters are REALLY cruel, making you work this late on a Sunday, no less.

Paul O’Connor: I’m 37 years old, married, two kids, and the oldest is three … no, I have no great love of the night, not at this phase of my life. As a kid I was an insomniac but since having kids of my own and starting this job, I’m asleep by midnight. Last night was an exception, as we were cracking on a deadline. I got off easy in that I went home at 1:30. Coming back in this morning at 10:30 I found several members of the team still at it. So, we’re working hard, even by OW standards, but it’s paying off.

Q: The swimming aspect of Munch is beginning to sound really cool, especially since that SEA REX pic was posted on I can’t wait to see one of those in action.

Paul O’Connor: Not sure yet if this will be a realtime creature. The Sea Rex might be confined to movies. Then again, maybe not.

Q: Does Munch need air? I’m not sure. He’s an amphibian, so it makes sense that he’d have to surface, but I think I heard that he had gills before (that or I’m slowly going insane). Is the natural Gabbit habitat in the ocean or in freshwater?

Paul O’Connor: Ocean. Gabbits are true amphibians and can live in water or on the land.

Date: 17/08/2000


Paul O’Connor: High praise for Oddworld …

Date: 24/08/2000


Q: The latest from IGN: After departing from their PS2 bashing at E3, the folks at Oddworld have gotten down to business and have created more playable levels, have solved anti-aliasing, and are looking to deliver a gorgeous, funny, and visionary game with Munch’s Oddysee, which we saw and played today. This game is irresistible. Though many people scoff at the idea, if there was one game that simply blows the rest out of the water visually, the award goes to Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. With the sheer originality of the creatures and worlds, not to mention the dark, absurd, strangely politically correct storyline, this game is a testament to the PS2’s graphic capabilities. For the first generation of games, Munch’s Oddysee is showcase for the PS2’s graphic abilities, and it’s clear you ain’t seen nothing yet from these folks. In this version, we saw Munch jamming around in his wheelchair, and swimming gleefully in pools of pristine water. Since Munch is a water-creature by nature, he swims gracefully around with his one webbed foot and once you get a rhythm going, you can get him to leap out of the water like a dolphin. Gamespeak has slowly been added to the early gameplay and Abe showed his early speaking abilities, as he commanded several of his brethren to beat up a baddie, and follow him around. Check out the updated preview for new screenshots. Plus, they have new screenshots and say they’ll have more information later this week! I can’t wait to hear more about this demo. Hopefully we’ll get some screenshots of Munch swimming. (In fact, I believe we have yet to see Munch in gameplay at all!) Mudokons can now beat up baddies? Is it true that, as they claim, Oddworld Inhabitants “have solved anti-aliasing” for the PS2?

Paul O’Connor: Here’s more:

Most of the team has been off this week after completing the demo late on Monday. I’m in for today, then off for another three. No word yet from Lorne about how things went, but the reviews have certainly been glowing.

Date: 28/08/2000


Q: I’ve read the article… sounds awesome! Do you know if us “public” will be able to play the demo… or if companies will be releasing it as part of demo CDs on magazines.

Paul O’Connor: While we were aiming to make the demo a “public playable,” that goal was buried under the avalanche of new stuff we had to finish for the press demo. Not sure what the publisher’s intentions might be, but we could probably kick our demo into playable shape if we had to. I’m sure there will be a public demo of some sort before the game ships.

Date: 28/08/2000


Q: Hey Paul, what’s the demo running on? Be as specific as you can. I want to see if I have the computing power to run it!

Paul O’Connor: Playstation 2 …

Q: How are those analog controls working out? Are they as cool as they seemed in description? If so, I’ll have to buy an analog game controller for my pc!

Paul O’Connor: The controls are silky, and getting better all the time. Still wrestling with the GameSpeak but we’ll get it dialed in.

Q: Munch sound like he’ll be fun to control in water. What happens if you put Abe in the water? Does the game allow you to put Abe in water? Is there a cool drowning animation if you do?

Paul O’Connor: Right now Abe thrashes around and drifts with the current. I think the plan is for him to drown if left in the water too long.

Date: 29/09/2000


Q: Hey eveybody, I was wondering if any of you had any new info on that Oddworld Animated series that was advertised at E3? Is it going to be produced, has it fell through?

Paul O’Connor: To answer various questions about the animated series … the series announced at e3 was a web-based series using Shockwave, called, I believe, “Webisodes.” We’re still working with the Webisodes folks, and I’m sure we’ll see something from them soon. This has in no way impacted our work on the game or any potential feature film — those are entirely different projects.

No worries!

Date: 11/10/2000


Paul O’Connor: For a future Designer Diary, I’m thinking about doing a piece on
Oddworld fans. Is there anyone here interested in consenting to an
interview (via e-mail). Contact me here or off the list if you are …

Date: 12/10/2000


Paul O’Connor: To Sydney, and everyone else who responded,

My plans are fluid right now, and I think I’ll leave the invite open over the weekend to see if anyone else responds, but here’s what I’m thinking about at the moment:

— I’ll send out an e-mail questionairre to everyone interested in responding.
— You guys will need to get back to me with answers pretty quick (within a day or two).
— I might then send follow-up questions to some or all of you.
— Then I’ll take the material, look for my angle, and compose a piece about OW fandom. Right now I plan to use this material for a couple Gamespot designer diaries, but if I wind up with lots of stuff, it might appear someplace else (like our
own website).

So — if you’ve already responded, either to the list or to me personally, you’ll receive something direct from me sometime next week. If you haven’t posted an interest yet, and would like to be part of the interview, let me know.

I can’t guarantee I’ll use everything I receive, of course … but it should be fun in any case.

Date: 22/12/2000


Q: this is what you get when you have a silence as long as this list has had. paul i’ve got a few questions for ya (and i’m sure i’m forgetting some of them).
1. a long time ago you had this to say on the list: Additionally, Munch is a “musical” character who relies on sound more than Abe to express himself. At minimum, he’ll have musical speech. He may also be able to “mimic” the speech of enemies (to command or confuse them) but this is a feature that might have to be pushed into Munch’s Exoddus, depending on the schedule. so, my question is, with the game being pushed back for a good while, will this mimic feature make it in?

Paul O’Connor: I don’t honestly know. We’re so focused on core issues right now like cameras, rendering, frame rate, etc. that I haven’t paid much attention to the feature list. As far as I know it’s still in — GameSpeak still plays a central role in the game.

Q: 2. do you think OWI will release abe’s games on the xbox? that was one of the big draws for the ps2… the fact that i could play all my oddworld games on one system. and yes, i know i could play them all on pc, but that’s ‘spensive. both of abe’s games could fit on a dvd…

Paul O’Connor: I think it’s a good idea, but I think it’s a publisher decision. I’m not sure if there will be a “shuttleware” market for the XBox. We’ll have to wait and see.

Q: 3. with the new camera system, it’s said that characters won’t bump into (or get stuck on) walls. does this mean that we’ll never again see abe run into a wall and hiss at it? that was one of the more endearing qualities of abe…

Paul O’Connor: This one I can actually answer. If you _want_ to run into walls, you can do so. The cruise control system kind of feels like magnetic attraction or repulsion … it helps guide you away from obstacles in the normal course of movement, but if you really want to go someplace, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it.

Happy holidays, everyone. I’ll be away from e-mail until after the new year. There will be a skeleton crew of guys here over Christmas working on our latest secret project, so spare them a thought and a bit of cheer in the next day or two … but I’m not one of ’em this year, so it’s off to be with my boys.

Date: 02/03/2001


Q: Paul, do you know what happened to ‘Playing the Odds’? It was a game on the old Abe’s Exoddus site, but it was never completed and always said: coming soon.

Paul O’Connor: Sorry, doesn’t ring a bell. It might have been something we had planned when the website was being done out-of-house. We recently brought everything into OW, so plans might have changed.

Date: 26/03/2001


Q: Back on the oddworld front, what in the name of odd happened to paul’s
des diaries? i know our paul has to be a busy lad these days, but….

Paul O’Connor: We had some changes in the production staff around the first of the year, which resulted in the designer diaries liaison duties basically falling to … no one, really. As we’ve been so focused on the game, it hasn’t been a priority for anyone to get the things jumpstarted again. I suspect there are still a couple diaries in the pipeline, but it’s been so long since I wrote one, that I can’t be sure. In the meantime, if you guys want to know anything, ask away. I’ll answer as best I can.

Brief update: I’m crunching on outside layouts, which have really started to come together (on the technical level, at least) over the last couple weeks. The Gamestock demo was the public debut for our outside scheme.

Today is my first day back in the office following the Game Developer’s Conference in San Jose. I gave a talk along with Chris Ulm and Farzad Varahramyan, which was well-received. Everyone seems really pumped up and excited by Munch, which is gratifying to see inside the development community, where everyone is burned out and loves to bitch …

Date: 11/06/2003


William Bunce-Edwards: I just wanted to see if there was anyone still out there. Munch’s Oddysee has been and gone, and OWI are promising an OW4 that will
blow us away. I also decided to post since I hear groups can be deleted if they’re not posted in for a long time, and I really didn’t want to see this place disappear, even if it does remain inactive, which I hope it won’t.

Paul O’Connor was only listed in the MO manual under ‘specialthanks’, which took me by surprise. Has he moved on? Perhaps I should ask him myself. Paul, have you moved on? I recently found the Munch’s Oddysee Designer Diaries while looking through, which got me a bit nostalgic. Anyway, if you’re still recieving daily digests or anything, then please just pop back, even if just for a second. It couldn’t hurt, surely.

Oh, I was previously known as ‘skelumton’ in this group.

Date: 12/04/2004


Alcar: Just to keep it alive, in case Yahoo! decides to cull it.