Few gamers can have a conversation about some of the best games to come out of the original Playstation and Xbox consoles without mentioning a game from the Oddworld franchise. This franchise told its story through an incredibly detailed gaming environment that inspires gamers to this very day. Needless to say we here at NGN have been excited about the return of Oddworld to the current generation. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Just Add Water Ltd.’s CEO Stewart Gilray to talk a little bit about how the Oddworld projects have been coming along.
NGN: What was the condition of Stranger’s Wrath when you got your hands on it? What was the biggest challenge you faced while working with the source material?
SG: It was in pretty good condition, in the sense that we actually had the original Perforce Project Depot (Perforce is the version/asset control software we, and they used). The biggest challenge was really in getting the tools that they used, E.G. We had to use Maya 4.5, Flash MX and other tools that dated from 2003-2004 time.
NGN: How much artistic / creative freedom do you have to make changes or updates to the source material? What were the biggest changes you made and why did you think they were worth making? How did they improve the user experience? How did these changes reflect your vision for the franchise?
SG: Goodness, we’ve “updated” a lot, actually almost the whole game has been updated, Movies, audio, textures, UI, environments, characters, HUD, visual FX (full MLAA on PS3), We’ve added in a few easter eggs, we’ve fixed a few things that were actually broken in the Xbox version. As for creative freedom, with the UI we went back to the original designs that Oddworld created in 2002 that they couldn’t use on the Xbox. But as they had only designed 4 of the 13 UI screens in the game, we just created the others based on those. Also, we only had Lorne’s approval on one item, the rest was entirely up to us.
NGN: How have fans responded to the news that you’ve remade this game? Have you incorporated any elements into the new version of the game based on suggestions from fans? If so, what?
SG: the biggest thing we get is “Why are you remaking games, why can’t you make new ones.” I think the actual biggest comment we have is “Don’t f*ck it up!” and I like to believe we’ve done the opposite of that, and created something really great. This coming week the game is getting its first public playtest at GameCity event in Nottingham, we’re all really excited and nervous at the same time.
NGN: How have the technical issues that you faced with Stranger’s Wrath changed your approach to remaking other games in the Oddworld franchise?
A: Well there’s not really, we’re mostly starting from scratch with the other projects, Stranger, being the most recent of the games, meant we could start with all their stuff. With Abe we are starting from zero code really.
NGN: The game is currently set to be distributed digitally, but do you have any plans to release a disc-based version as well? Why or why not?
SG: No, unless we end up releasing a boxset in the future. Mainly as, we and Oddworld are small indie companies now, to be able to afford to release on Disc is a MASSIVE risk. You have to pay a lot of money to get your discs manufactured, I think something like $10 per copy, so if you do the maths, having 200,000 copies made would cost us at LEAST $2,000,000 and that simply is not possible for us.
NGN: What upgrades have been made to the game that you feel gamers will appreciate most?
SG: The audio I think. The original audio was encoded at really low quality, we’ve gone back to the original files and used those at 16bit, 44khz quality.
NGN: What are your personal feelings on the Playstation Vita? Have you found developing for the Vita challenging compared to your earlier efforts with Gravity Crash on the PSP?
SG: If anything it’s a lot easier developing for Vita over the PSP. To be honest the PSP development environment was a real PITA..
NGN would like to thank Mr. Stewart Gilray for his time and we hope you enjoyed our interview.