Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning on what’s next for Abe and co
With New ’N’ Tasty now well beyond the factory gates and out into the wilds, publisher Oddworld Inhabitants is taking a breather while it considers its next move. The obvious choice, and one that the Oddworld series’ extremely loyal fans are also hoping for, would be to give Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus the New ’N’ Tasty treatment, but co-founder and COO Lorne Lanning is thinking further ahead, too.
“If we sell 250,000 copies of New ’N’ Tasty, then we could get into Exodus,” he tells us. “But selling 500,000 would really allow us to look at new IP.” Exactly what form that new IP would take is undecided at this stage, however. Although the signs are positive, Lanning is remaining cautiously optimistic as to whether a third Oddworld platformer, built from scratch or otherwise, would find an audience after the amount of time it would take to reach completion. But commercial considerations aside, the designer in Lanning doesn’t relish the prospect of building more of the same when there are other options to explore.
“The truth is that where my heart is at right now is in new mechanics,” he explains. “I’ve actually designed quite a bit of Fangus [AKA Oddworld: The Brutal Ballad Of Fangus Klot], and it’s very different. It’s a 3D world, but I want more procedural world generation and higher resolutions, and I don’t think that stuff is quite right yet. Beyond that, I would definitely want natural-motion animation capabilities and physics, so that we really take that sense of life to another level.”
Lanning, chuckling to himself, describes Fangus as an intense blend of
Lorne Lanning on finding new ways to play, and the future of his company’s famed series
Man On Fire and Old Yeller, but admits that despite its fairly advanced state there’s still a great deal of expensive experimentation needed to figure out how to make the game’s mechanics (which he won’t be drawn on) sit well together. “When I look at Oddworld, what excites me most is those new property possibilities,” he says. “But they’re huge efforts to do. When it comes to the 2D stuff, it will be interesting to see how Alf’s Escape [DLC in which you rescue the 300th Mudokon] does. It’s probably one of the deepest levels in the game, and we really wanted to make it special because, like anything we do, we want the audience to appreciate the quality we put into it even if it’s not that huge a play.”
If it goes down well, Lanning muses, the Oddworld series – at least, the 2D games within it – could adopt a more episodic release strategy. “Instead of having to spend $2 million to get the next one out and take however long,” he says, “in three to six months we might be able to offer two or three more levels of a slightly different story. If that could work, it would give us a shorter time to market possibility that we haven’t really had on the property before.”
“As I got more demos on Oculus and Morpheus, I realised just how game-changing this is going to be”
Given that there is so much goodwill towards the Oddworld series from a highly involved fanbase – Oddworld Inhabitants canvassed players to ask what project they would like to see before work started on New ’N’ Tasty – Kickstarter would seem to be a particularly good fit. It would not only help to raise the capital needed to build Oddworld’s trademark
Oddworld co-founder and COO Lorne Lanning