Oddworld Deals Hand of Odd

Oddworld Inhabitants' creator talks about the next big Oddworld game beyond the reaches of Munch's Oddysee.

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Oddworld fans will have more than Munch's Oddysee, the next in the Oddworld Quintology and follow up to Abe's Oddysee, to keep their plates warm when Hand of Odd, an offshoot from the Oddworld Quintology and full, real time 3D strategy game for the PC and PlayStation 2 arrives next year.

Hand of Odd won't be a Quintology game, meaning it won't follow Abe's Oddysee, or precede or follow Munch's Oddysee, but rather will live in that sort of offshoot territory Abe's Exoddus occupied. Oddworld Inhabitant's Creator, Lorne Lanning told us the specifics.

"With Hand of Odd, we wanted to give gamers the ability to see Oddworld, and play Oddworld, from Odd's perspective. We didn't want to focus on individual characters with specific dilemmas like we do in our Quintology games. We wanted the focus to be on the ideological conflicts that exist in the Oddworld Quintology, but to have the playing field work in much more the strategy fashion. We wanted to give the gamer a chance to choose sides, then exploit that side's ideology to its fullest potential."

Lanning also told us all about the game's concept, thus far.

"Hand of Odd is all about 'Ambitious Industrialists' going up against 'Eco Extremists'. While building up hordes of characters, the entire landscape can be transformed from one extreme to the other. Rape a beautiful landscape and profit from it until it's a useless wasteland, or nurture an eco-disaster area into the next rain forest. The choices are yours as you manipulate a dysfunctional world of characters with hilarious interactions."

"The basic functionality of Hand of Odd is very similar to a strategy class game. You build up lots of characters, you build up the places they live and work, and you use them to do your bidding on a vast landscape. But in real time strategy games today, you basically deplete the natural resources to build up forces and then try to conquer an enemy who's doing the same. By which time the world is spent and the game is over. Hand of Odd more fully plays out the conflicts that exist between industrial civilizations and aboriginal tribes. You can deplete the natural resources if you want, but you can also nourish them. There is a monetary way to prosper, but there is also a spiritual way. There is an ecological balance at work that allows the game to be played in short spurts; or over much, much longer periods of time. It can also be left on while your not around, like a sim game, and you can return to see how things went while you were at work or at school.

"This game is extremely deep, and yet hilarious and simple on the surface. It might be described as a strategy game that has been gene-spliced with an environmental simulator, then left to stew with a few bags of demented sea monkeys."

So can we expect to see Abe, the rescued Mudokons, the Sligs, and the whole cast together again in Hand of Odd? " will contain all of the species of characters seen thus far from Oddworld, and at least a dozen more," said Lanning. "They will act and behave as life forms. They have their own life cycles, and they act more like living creatures than they do game characters. All of them are worth something...dead or alive."

Hand of Odd will be single player and multiplayer from two to 16 players, with the final multiplayer number yet to be determined.

When you think of Oddworld, you no doubt think of the characters' personalities. Lanning told us you won't play a character in Hand of Odd, per se, but rather an ideology. And that each ideology lets you control various species of characters. "There is a story, but it's different from normal storylines. It focuses on a couple of characters caught in the middle of the conflicts between the two ideologies."

Ideologies? Eco-terrorism? Capitalist plots? Thinking characters? Sound like a typical Oddworld game? Yes. But there's more. "It will only be like our other games in that it takes place on Oddworld, has tremendous entertaining sensibilities, intellectually interesting concepts, high-production value, fluid animations, beautiful art, and serious attention to detail. Other than that, and the fact that we're focusing on simpler interfaces so that a broader audience can also enjoy it... it's a completely new experience from Oddworld," said Lanning.

There's really only one thing left to say - PlayStation 2. "We wanted to design the game to have more complexity, on its deeper levels, than a typical strategy game. But we also wanted to be the first to build an interface that worked beautifully on a console system," said Lanning. "We know that console gamers would love strategy games, if only they had one that interfaced well to a console system. With the PSII specs, and the latest PC specs; we can design the game for both systems without compromising either one."

Hand of Odd won't be available for about a year and a half, as the production cycle is very early, however Lanning expressed, with confidence, "I promise that you will not believe how real it looks." Stay with GameSpot News for more info as it becomes available.

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