This weekend, Lorne Lanning
officially killed off Oddworld Inhabitants.
I'm not going to say that
the decision was made lightly, because I can't be in close
enough to know that. Nor do I deny that his arguments -
especially regarding how games are made, funded, and
published these days - have validity.
That being said, I think
this is horrible. Without fail or exception, the Oddworld
franchise has been a joy for gamers. The first two Oddworlds
were brilliant. The third had a decent story and gameplay,
marred only by some questionable camera setups. Oddworld:
Stranger's Wrath was absolutely beautiful to play, and the
"live ammo" feature was a nifty twist. It deserved all the
critical acclaim that it garnered, and then some.
However, this is a serious
blow to gamers as a whole. Games are unlike any other medium
out there, in that they're interactive. Players make
choices, and that affects what happens; maybe not in the
grand storyline, but in the intervening moments, players are
free to explore. While it's true that the same technology
can make a television show or a movie, it's not necessarily
the same thing from a storytelling experience. Really and
truly, playing Oddworld was about exploration and trying out
new and nifty ideas as much as it was watching the
The reasons he gave are
numerous, but they're nothing we as gamers haven't heard
before. Development costs are up. Next-generation hardware
requires more and more people to code the same gameplay.
Publishing companies refuse to promote games that they can't
get for every platform. Selling a game is hard unless you
can say "well it's like X", with X being a previous big-name
title. Publishers, not developers, own the intellectual
On the downside, such terms
are much the same in the movie industry where he's going.
Sure, funding can be acquired from multiple sources; but as
available processing power goes up and other companies raise
the bar for graphics, it takes more and more to create
"acceptable" graphics in computer generated series or
movies. Mr. Lanning looks at movies and says he can make
something that looks three times as good as Toy Story
for $35 million: sure he can. But he can't create The
Incredibles or Cars or Shrek 2 for that,
and that is where he'll need to be.
Intellectual Property? Well,
unless you're Pixar or Disney or Miyamoto, forget it. You
have to be big in the industry BEFORE you can own your own
intellectual properties, and all one has to do to observe
this reality is to look at Michael Eisner's constant threats
a couple years back to destroy Toy Story by producing
a smash-run of crappily animated, worse voiced, "Toy Story
the TV Series" episodes or Toy Story sequels (think
The Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels) if
Pixar walked away from Disney.
As far as consolidation,
sequel-itis, and the rest... who does he think he's kidding?
Hollywood's got almost nothing these days. Remakes of old
movies are the biggest-ticket item. Rehashes of the same old
plotline have been the norm in "romantic comedy" forever.
There are a few bright spots like Pixar, but beyond that,
everyone's trying to make sequels. Trying to bring Oddworld,
or something similar, into that arena means that barring a
miracle, he'll be looking back 6-8 years from now and
wondering why he's making yet another movie in this same old
I eagerly await what he does
next, but in the meantime, I'm very disappointed. Gamers
have just been cheated out of a rare and wonderful world to
Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
right here for everyone to see!