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Oddworld Inhabitants (also known as OWI) is a United States based video game developing and film making company that was founded in 1994 by special effects and computer animation veterans Sherry McKenna and Lorne Lanning. The company facility is currently located in San Luis Obispo, California which has attracted top video game and animation talent from all over the world. Since the company's establishment in 1994, Oddworld Inhabitants has released four highly successful video game titles; all of which are part of the company's Oddworld franchise.
Oddworld Inhabitants’ Lorne Lanning was classically trained as a painter of fine art, but came to realize that the mediums most influential on popular opinion were becoming electronic and mass-distributed. He graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in Character Animation and eventually found himself working on feature films, advertisements, station idents and motion-based attractions at award-winning Hollywood visual effects studio Rhythm and Hues. It was here he met Sherry McKenna, already a successful producer, who he persuaded first to work at Rhythm and Hues then, eventually, to co-found a videogame company with him. This persuasion took two years to accomplish. To Sherry, videogames were ugly, confusing and boisterous, but once Lorne had promised they could not only design a graphically beautiful, intuitively controlled game with a captivating and meaningful story, but also get it funded, developed and published, Sherry agreed to the idea. In September 1994, Oddworld Inhabitants was born.
1997 - 2005Edit
In 1997, the company released their first video game entitled, Abe's Oddysee for the PlayStation One. The game became the first in a series of what is now known as the Oddworld Pentalogy. The game became an instant classic that was praised for in originality and unique design. The plot revolved around Abe attempting to liberate himself and his fellow Mudokon scrubs from their evil Glukkon slave owners. Abe's Oddysee became a instant success earning a large fan base and gaining OWI a credible rep among the gaming industry.
Following the success of Abe's Oddysee, the Oddworld franchise became one of the "mascot franchises" of the PlayStation One like the Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and Tekken franchises. This enabled OWI to only in a year release a sequel to Abe's Oddysee. In 1998 Abe's Exoddus was released on PS1. Like it's predecessor, it was welcomed with praise. The game took place immediately after the events of the first game with the Abe once again being called to prevent the Glukkons from digging up Mudokon Bones and using them to create SoulStorm Brew.
After the success of Abe's Exoddus, Oddworld Inhabitants began to move its direction to the Xbox platform due to its increasing popularity over the PlayStation 2, DreamCast, and GameCube. As a result, the PlayStation 2 release of Munch's Oddysee and Hand of Odd were canceled. In 2001, Munch's Oddysee was released for Xbox and became an instant success. However, Hand of Odd was never released and presumed scrapped. With the success of Munch's Oddysee, Oddworld Inhabitants was guaranteed potential for future games and began to work on their next video game title.
In 2005, Oddworld Inhabitants released Stranger's Wrath, the first Oddworld first-person shooter. The game was (like Munch's Oddysee) exclusive to the Xbox. The plot revolves around a Clint Eastwood like bounty hunter named Stranger. His mission is to earn 20,000 Moolah in order to afford a "life saving" operation. While like its predecessors, the game was well received earning awards and a new fan base, EA games failed to market the game well at all. The game achieving a user metric of 9.6 out of 10 only ended up selling 600,000 copies.
2005 - 2010Edit
In April 2005, Lanning announced the studio's decision to cancel all projects and leave the video game industry. The decision left audiences and the gaming media confused and thinking the decision was based on Lanning's anger with EA Studios for the marketing issues of Stranger's Wrath. Even one former employee could not grasp their decision, saying "quite honestly they had one of the best teams in the industry, and they just threw it away." So Lanning explained the very next day that the decision was not "a result of emotional reactions to the industry or Stranger's release." They closed the studio because the financing models where the publisher provides the funds for the studio meant the publisher could dictate the kinds of marketing decisions like the one made by EA to cut Stranger's marketing. In addition, the trend of expectation versus success during Oddworld's time in game development showed a cycle with which Lanning was not willing to continue. He explained that when they developed their first game, the sales expectation was only half of what they were able to deliver, but for the second game, the sales expectation was almost twice as much as what they could deliver, and for the third and fourth games, the sales expectations again increased while the actual sales further decreased. But he explained that the reason for their diminishing successes were due to what he refers to as FUBARS – elements beyond the control of the developers, but influence the production, distribution and publishing of the games – that begun very low during the development of their first game but increased by up to five times as much by the time the fourth game was being developed:
- In the financial space, they don't talk about how many games got lost in the distribution company's warehouse when commercials were running. Or the next game: how many territories were lost because of poor strategy by a console's install that completely missed our number one performing territory. Or the fourth game: how many series of controls happen where we're supposed to have a multi-SKUed product... we don't have it, and then we wind up with zero marketing campaign and exposure. None of that is written in the financial history books... We're looking at this as creators, and we're going 'we don't believe that this is what should have happened, but we can understand why it did, and we can understand that these were factors completely beyond our control. — Lorne Lanning
The next seven years consisted mostly of hints of another Oddworld game that never saw the light of day in fears that the game would not adapt well in the mostly online multiplayer-based video game scene.
2010 - presentEdit
On July 15, 2010, OWI returned from its long absence with the announcement of upcoming Oddworld-related titles across multiple platforms in collaboration with Just Add Water Ltd. . Surprisingly after over half a decade, OWI still has a large fan base which is still supporting the company despite what seemed like an unlikely return from retirement.
On August 10, 2010, JAW confirmed to be working with OWI on four to five Oddworld games.
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- Oddworld was originally supposed to be called 'Offworld' (a homage to Bladerunner), but the trademark was denied because of another game called Offworld Intruder.
- ↑ http://www.jawltd.com/?p=546
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/20101007194047/idmindustry.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/new-oddworld-game/
- ↑ http://retroasylum.com/episode-123-its-an-oddworld/ @ 00:55
External Links Edit
- Official Website
- Oddworld Inhabitants Facebook Page
- Oddworld Inhabitants on Wikipedia
- OddBlog OddBlog, a blog that can be viewed by anyone for updates on the company's activities.
- The Online Oddworld Library