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What’s next for Oddworld? Just Add Water speaks

Tuesday, 12th March 2013 08:50 GMT By Dave Cook

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee New’N’Tasty is the first step in the series’ rebirth. Dave Cook speaks to Just Add Water to find out what happens next.

Just Add Water

Just Add Water has teamed up with Oddworld Inhabitants to bring the series back, and to introduce new games further down the line.

The team is currently developing Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee New’N’Tasty, due for release Autumn 2013.

You can read my massive interview with Oddworld co-creator Lorne Lanning here. We discuss the series’ collapse and rebirth in detail.

Just Add Water has been confirmed as a PS4 developer by Sony. They haven’t revealed what they’re working on for it yet.

The studio has also released HD versions of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath and Munch’s Oddysee. Check them out here.

Whether through a shift in the market, or the the pressures of the almighty dollar, Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna’s Oddworld Quintology was never completed.

After the collapse of their studio Oddworld Inhabitants, unreleased games Squeek’s Oddysee, The Brutal Ballad of Fangus Klot and Hand of Odd were thought lost forever.

But in reality, those ‘lost’ games do exist in some form, their concepts scrawled on paper by Lanning over the years.

The working Xbox prototype of Fangus Klot is real and it does run, there is a large design document for Hand of Odd, while the rest of the Oddworld road-map sits within Lanning’s imaginative, over-active mind.

Now that UK outfit Just Add Water is enhancing and releasing all of the Oddworld games, the developer is slowly catching up to the point that the series fell into obscurity, begging the question, ‘What happens next?’

That’s precisely what I asked studio’s CEO Stewart Gilray recently.

“We do have the original bound Hand of Odd design document here,” Gilray revealed, “as well as a version of Fangus running – An original Xbox build. A few of us here at Just Add Water know the basic story and identity of Squeek, so that’s definitely interesting.

“I’d love to tell you, but one of the things I’ve tried to install on Lorne, is not to talk too early about stuff, and to use that knowledge and information as a marketing practice in the run up for a products release, which is something you’ll start to see over the remainder of this year in the run up to the release of Abe’s Oddysee New ‘N’ Tasty.”

New ‘N’ Tasty looked stunning when I played it late last year, a 2.5D remake of the original Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, displayed in full HD and with several new tricks up its sleeve. It’s a statement of intent – that Oddworld is back and this time, it’s here to stay.

So confident of the series renewed long-term success was Gilray’s team, that it conducted a fan poll to see what game it should work on next. The results were rather fascinating, with an HD remake of Abe’s Exoddus coming out on top, followed by an entirely new game, then lost titles, Fangus Klot, Squeek’s Oddysee and Hand of Odd.

The poll wasn’t just a fan-baiting exercise either, as Gilray explained, “It wasn’t just a case of gathering info that will gather dust in a drawer, we already have a rough plan for the next couple of years, but we wanted to make sure we weren’t just wasting time making something that nobody wanted, so we just wanted to give ourselves some confidence.

“Saying that there were some real differences in the results that we weren’t expecting. We were a little surprised that Squeek’s Oddysee wasn’t higher up the result. We knew Exoddus would be pretty high up there, but to see it where it ended up was nice.”

There has been some confusion and debate surrounding both Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus in recent years – chiefly – what happened to the source code and ownership rights. Gilray was more than happy to clear up the matter for me, and shed light on some of New ‘N’ Tasty’s key changes.

“We’ve got the source code to both Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus. However, we’ve don’t have final PSone code for Oddysee, and no PC code, but we have final PC code for Exoddus, and no PSone code. So we’ve got a mix.

“We have all the tools and are actually using similar systems to the originals, but we’re obviously enhancing various things, like allowing woken up Sligs, to go back to sleep if they don’t hear or see anything.

“The biggest challenge is catching the same feel as the original. There have been various comments we’ve read where people have said “Oh no they’ve removed the gore” well we haven’t, and in some places the game is darker than the original, but we’ve not shown those areas yet.”

The team at Just Add Water is going to great lengths to lovingly remake Abe’s Oddysee, given the gaps in the game’s original source code, so it’s comforting to know that he series won’t be cancelled a second time.

“Oddworld Inhabitants own everything now” Gilray explained, “and I mean everything. Even the PSone versions are now exclusively owned by Oddworld Inhabitants. They spent a couple of years making sure they bought back, or waited for rights to lapse so they could “own” everything, and that is the case now.

“The only place this doesn’t apply is to existing boxed product. If you buy a copy from Amazon of the PSone titles, then that money sticks with Amazon. It doesn’t find its way back to Oddworld Inhabitants, which is why we encourage everyone that wants to support us to buy digital right now.”

With free reign to do whatever it wants with the universe it first set out to create through the 90s, Oddworld Inhabitants can take the franchise anywhere now, but for Just Add Water, a remake of Exoddus would be the next logical step.

“It would obviously be a lot easier,” Gilray explained, “as Exoddus is an extension of Oddysee, so that would also apply to us if we decided to tackle a remake of Exoddus next. We would literally face the same battles they did with Exoddus in 97/98 and that is to create a game on top of an existing engine and game.”

But should both teams decide to fulfil its fan poll and create an entirely new Oddworld IP, Gilray teased that Lanning’s mind is already full of ideas, “ There are some crazy ideas on paper we’ve found, but Lorne’ mind is filled stuff.”

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee launches on PC, PS3, PS Vita and Xbox 360 this Autumn, and we’ll have more on the game throughout the year. Meanwhile, what would you like to see Just Add Water and Oddworld Inhabitants tackle next? Let us know below.

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10 Comments

  1. mtnman3888

    Such fond memories of these games, really can’t wait for what they have in store. I’ll definitely be supporting JAW with my gaming dollars.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Clupula

    Uh oh. He encouraged everyone to buy digital. I can think of one person one here with Fanboy in their screenname who is going to freak out about that.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 Whoever do you mean? ;)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Beta

    So happy that Oddworld is back! The Abe games are still 2 of my favourites :D

    Bought the art of Oddworld Inhabitants a little while back, awesome book :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. The Dude

    Man, can’t wait either! Glad to hear they want to redo Exoddus as well. After that, let’s have something brand new from Oddworld! :D

    Edit: I hope the music remains as atmospheric as it was in the original.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. jesuisrojhat

    Wow, I just can’t wait for this game to come out. Had a lot of fun with this game when I was just a kid back in the days. Nostalgia at it’s best! :D

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Dragon246

    I am totally in love with this studio after Strangers Wrath Vita :D

    #7 2 years ago
  8. TheWulf

    I continue to love the Oddworld series to bits. Stranger’s Wrath HD made me far, far happier than it should have for the entire time I was playing it. It’s funny because I stunk at it, and it had issues, but the sheer charm of every Oddworld game just has that effect on me.

    If a game is just that lovely and unique, I can put up with being bad at it quite happily. I actually wasn’t doing too badly at it after a while due to bloody minded persistence, because I wanted to see what bizarreness they’d throw my way next. Zeno Clash had the same kind of effect.

    I wish there were more games like that. If the game is compelling enough, then difficulty just doesn’t bother me at all. And so much love and personality went into the Oddworld games. I’ve always said that the best forms of entertainment are basically walking around in another person’s brain, and seeing things from their perspective, and enjoying an experience you otherwise wouldn’t be able to because of it.

    That’s what makes gaming special. That so many publishers and developers actually fail to understand this leaves me sad. I find all the Creeds and the Autos and the Duty’s to be really dry and dead by comparison. This is what will make me balk at a game or love a game. This is why I absolutely despised Kingdoms of Amalur but loved the hell out of Bastion.

    Mass Effect 3 was a similar experience in some regards. I actually wanted to put the difficulty up. And at first I stunk at the Armax Arena in the Citadel DLC, but I have so much love for that Universe that I want to learn how to be good at playing their game. Same for multiplayer, I stunk at playing silver and gold at first, but playing as a geth (and later, playing as a bloody geth prime!) was such novelty and fun that I just kept at it.

    I don’t care what anyone says about the Geth Juggernaut. He’s my baby, and if you spec him right, then he makes for the easiest gold solo run of any kit.

    And I do adore the geth. Considering all the effort put into them in the story of the three games, and all the novelty they possess, and their beautiful aesthetics… I just get the feeling that there was someone in BioWare who considered the geth theirs and wanted to make them into something really unique. And I think they managed it.

    Ultimately, I just crave novelty and I get easily bored. Often I’ll just get bored with a game so quickly that I’ll put it on its simplest difficulty just so I can power through it, and I’ll be sick of it by the end even then. There are so many games that lack novelty, and I am a creature of novelty. There was a time when it felt common for games to be akin to walking around in another person’s head, too.

    Did you see the ’90s of the PC? If not, go and take a look at GoG.com because it was weird. And in some cases it was delightfully weird. We had things like a cheesy sci-fi noir featuring a derpy detective and his mutated lady in a post-World War III alternate earth. We just don’t see a lot of that any more, do we?

    And if you understand that, you’ll realise why I was all over Mass Effect 3. The Mass Effect games still have novelty. The first… not so much, but 2 begun to flow with it, and then with 3 they went their own way and did so much their own thing that it just… wow. There is nothing else out there like ME3. I don’t care if people hate it. I love it.

    And damn it, if you haven’t played the Citadel DLC. Play it. Really.

    Anyway, Oddworld fits into my desires for novelty. Can we have more of this and less of the Creeds and the Duty’s? Please? I’d be ever so happy. There was a time when I was frequently happy with gaming – before the mainstream happened. These days, I’m left feeling like I’m one of the few gamers alive with an imagination or a sense of romance.

    – Edited –

    You know, another example of this is the old Duke Nukem 3D deathmatch maps. If there was a deathmatch game like that, I would buy it and love it. The thing is is that it’s the only deathmatch experience I’ve ever really liked. Why? It had first person jumping puzzles and traps. Not only that, but some of the traps didn’t activate automatically, they were activated by a button press. So sometimes you could press a button and a player who’d just gotten a super powerful power-up would fall to their doom.

    Those trap-laden maps gave me some of the best deathmatch memories of all. And it was due to how much interaction a button press could have with the map itself. DN3D was built around that. If you look at a deathmatch today, it’s a bunch of guys pouring into a map with guns and shooting each other. And it doesn’t even hold a candle to the trapmaps of DN3D. There are just so many fantastic ideas from the ’90s which could be brought into the now and would likely sell brilliantly.

    Someone should do a DM game based around jumping puzzles and trapmaps, like DN3D. Where if you wanted to be good at it, you’d not only have to be good at shooting, but first person jumping and avoiding traps, too. And throw in easter egg traps as well, traps that only activate if you’ve done a series of things, so that only a few players will know about those until the Internet makes them common knowledge.

    That kind of thing is just still so fun to me.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Renney77

    Wow I’d love to have Oddworld come back! It has so much potential I loved the platforming for first two but I’d love to see something new like “Hand of Odd” sounds like, a strategy game in Oddworld where you shape the world! Thats right up my alley:D I just hope they start coming out soon while I have the time spare time to play them.

    The company has my full support! but from reading that IU wasn’t sure who it is. oddworld inhabitants or JAW?

    #9 1 year ago
  10. the commodore

    Would love to see sequel to munch, remember playing when I was about 6 and so did my big sister, she got the good ending but me not so much, haven’t been more traumatised since, role the clock 12 years, stumble upon the game, start playing it again and hopefully I’ll get the main ending, but other than munches oddysee, all the others are just brilliant as we’ll and deserve the reviews they got.

    #10 9 months ago

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