Stranger’s Wrath: 3D and Move support on way but still no sign of Xbox version

Stranger’s Wrath: 3D and Move support on way but still no sign of Xbox version [Hosted by Hookshot Inc]
Date: 23 February, 2012
Interviewer: Christian Donlan
Interviewee: Stewart Gilray


Phone interviews can be exciting. The first time I called up Stewart Gilray, CEO of Just Add Water, to talk about his team’s work bringing Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath to the PS3, his young son puked everywhere and we had to reschedule. The next time, a server exploded. Eventually, though, I managed to get him on the line long enough to talk about the studio’s forthcoming update for Stranger on the PS3, as well as what’s happening with the PC version and whether we’ll ever see the game back on a Microsoft console.

After that, he was attacked by bears and the line went dead again.

Hookshot Inc: Firstly, how has Stranger fared on PS3?

Stewart Gilray: We broke even in about three and a half weeks. I’m not disclosing numbers just yet, though. We’ve done a little less than I would hope to have done at this point, but we’ve done very well comparatively. Bearing in mind we had zero marketing and PR budget, we literally chucked it out around Christmas, which is risky. Because every other publisher and their uncle wants to get their games out before Christmas, we had 24 other games to contend with that week. Now we’ve got a big update coming out in March.

Hookshot Inc: Is the update for the PC version? Speaking of which, are we likely to see an Xbox 360 version any time soon? The original never made it onto the backwards compatability list.

Stewart Gilray: Well, the PC version came out in December 2010, but we will be releasing an update to bring that version in line with the PS3 HD version at some point soon. We had hoped to get that out in March, but it’s probably going to be a bit later than that now. That’s mainly because we want to get the PC version right. We did get a lot of stick from the public over the original PC release and we’re still getting flak now. The current issues are down to ATI drivers, and we can’t fix that in the current version, but we’re still getting stuff about that. Our update for that should hopefully be out in the next few months.

As for Xbox, we really want to do that, but Microsoft has turned us down repeatedly. We originally wanted to go XBLA with them. Then we said, “Well let’s do the Games On Demand route.” They said no, for a handful of reasons: the original game didn’t sell a million copies in retail, which is a stipulation they have for GOD. Then there’s a minimum price of $20 for GOD, and we were putting ours out there at $15. The idea of charging more on 360 than PSN was bonkers to us. Then they wanted Achievements and HD updating, both of which we were actually doing. Then Lorne Lanning [the Oddworld creator] got really antsy with them and spoke to some people he knew at the high levels of Microsoft – above XBLA and Microsoft Studios. We spoke to them some more, and they said, “Look, tell us what you want.” Then they turned us down again, just after Christmas. This time they said it was because we didn’t sell a million at retail, which we already knew, and that we needed a minimum Metacritic of 80 – and we had that already. Then the price thing came up again, and then – the crazy one – they wanted a simultaneous release with PS3. We said, “Look, we’ve been talking to you for 15 months now. You’re the ones who put the breaks on it.”
So we’ve given up with Microsoft, but we’re now trying to go down the third-party route and find a publisher to publish it for us. We’re in talks about it. Nothing’s confirmed yet, but we’ll see how we get on.

Hookshot Inc: Fingers crossed for you. Tell me about the March update for the PS3 version.

Stewart Gilray: Right, we’ve done the stereoscopic update for 3D support. It looks brilliant. We actually had that running just before the game came out, after it went into certification, and it looks amazing in 3D. We’ve also added Youtube video-capturing, so you can play the game and upload it to Youtube. Move support’s in there, and we’ve added some graphics stuff based on feedback. Some people said it was too bright, some people said it was too dark, so we’ve added brightness and gamma settings. We also missed some sub-titles out first time around so that’s fixed.

Hookshot Inc: How does Move work in the game?

Stewart Gilray: The problem we’ve got, of course, is that we’re not just first-person. We’re first- and third-person. So we’ve had to alter the way it works a little. When you’re in first-person, it works the same as Killzone or Resistance 3: where you point is where you aim. In third-person, where you point is where Stranger is aiming toward, and you then move with the thumbstick, exactly the same as it is now. We don’t use Move for any movement – just aiming.

Hookshot Inc: One thing I’m always interested about in 3D is what you do with the target reticule: where does that go?

Stewart Gilray: Ha! We thought about that very issue long and hard. At first, it was where it is now, right at the front of the screen in the foreground, but that screws with your brain really horribly. So what we’ve done now is actually put it into the scene, which is what Killzone does – so it’s actually down the barrel a little bit and into the environment. It works quite well, because your brain instantly recognises the perspective.

This is one thing we actually notices about all 3D. If you have any assets coming out of the screen, your perception gets screwed up. You have to make certain that the screen is always the nearest plane and everything else is in the TV itself. That’s one of the problems James Cameron had with Avatar, actually.

Hookshot Inc: Last question: after Stranger, what’s next?

Stewart Gilray:
We’re still working on Munch’s Odyssey HD, which is due for release in Q2 this year on Vita and PS3. We’ve got a version of Stranger for Vita coming out in Q2, too. Currently all of this stuff is download only, and it’s all going to be reasonably priced, too. It’ll be in line with what we’ve done on the PS3, probably a little cheaper. Our aim for all this stuff is to have cross-platform saves, as well.