Oddworld Q&A Part 1

We talk with Lorne Lanning about Munch, Abe, and the rest of the Oddworld gang.

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Munch's Oddysee has had as long and event-filled trip to completion as one of Oddworld Inhabitant's games. Originally announced as a PlayStation 2 game, Munch's jumped consoles to Xbox exclusivity in mid-development, providing Oddworld a sizable challenge when finishing the game. With the game wrapped up and in stores, we managed to grill Oddworld president Lorne Lanning about the game's development.

Things have been a little stressful for Munch.
Things have been a little stressful for Munch.

GameSpot: Munch's has had a long developmental road. How have you kept the game from drifting too far off from what you've always envisioned it to be?

Lorne Lanning: Actually, the game did drift off from what we originally wanted it to be. The story stayed pretty much intact, but the play changed as we hit more and more issues and also discoveries. There were a number of things that we thought would be new and fun elements in the inherent concept of the gameplay, but we found out that some of these just didn't turn out to be fun when you played them. When you hit cases like these, you do everything in your power to provide remedies and make a quick about-face. Ultimately, you need to deliver a game that people have fun with. When you find something doesn't work, you'd better fix it. Even if that means veering off the previously envisioned path.

GS: How has moving the game from console to console affected work on it?

LL: It definitely hasn't made things any easier for us. When you move the code around to different consoles, ultimately there are some compromises that you wind up having to live with at the core of the code. The Xbox is extremely powerful, so some of the things that were done to try to optimize the PS2 left some residue that didn't allow us to fully exploit the Xbox potential. We still got quite a bit further because of the Xbox, but next round we'll really take advantage of the system.

GS: How has working on the Xbox been?

LL: It's been a pleasure. Aside from the superior graphics performance, it's been a huge gain to have 64 megabytes of memory. This makes a huge difference for everybody, but especially the artists. This is because they get to use a lot more textures and geometry for their levels and characters.

GS: Do you feel you got the most out of the hardware?

LL: No. There is a lot more to get out of the hardware. That's what makes it very exciting moving forward. We know there is so much more that this machine can do. Now it's a matter of trying to fully utilize it. It's also powerful enough that many, many different types of effects can be done and will be done differently by various developers. Meaning we'll see a proliferation of cool and unique special touches that we haven't seen before.

GS: Did you feel any pressure due to the game's status as an Xbox launch title? Did it affect development of the title at all?

LL: There was a lot of pressure because you want to reap the benefits of being a launch title. Microsoft was great in helping us get it done, and they were also great in that they didn't want to compromise quality in order to get it done on time. We had worked on this a long time and, for us here at Oddworld, we wanted to get it finished and we wanted to move on. It did affect the title, but in a positive way, as it forced us to make some hard calls that were needed anyway.

GS: Was anything cut out of the end of the game due to time constraints?

LL: Sure, but that is always the case. You always want to get more into a game than you're actually able to deliver.

Check back tomorrow for the second part of our QA.

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