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Interview: We chat with one of the developers behind The Oddboxx

This week, PC gamers finally got a chance to play the final two games in Lorne Lanning and Oddworld Inhabitants' Oddworld action-adventure game series. Both the PC ports of Munch's Oddysee and Stranger's Wrath (first released on the original Xbox) joined the previously released Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus in a new collection called, appropriately enough, The Oddboxx.

While the PC ports of the two new games have had some tech issues after their release on Steam last Monday (the development teams are working to fix them ASAP) the fact that these two games have been brought to the PC after all this time is an achievement in itself. Big Download got Stewart Gilray of Just Add Water (who handled the Stranger's Wrath port) to give us some more info on how The Oddboxx got made.

First, how did your team first get the gig to go back and do the games that are a part of The Oddboxx?

Actually we only worked on Stranger's Wrath, another team did the bulk of the work on Munch, but we took over that a few weeks ago to implement Steam Achievements. As for how we got the gig. I've always been a huge fan of the Oddworld games, going so far as to buy an original Xbox twice to play each game, as I was PS2 user. Anyway I met Lorne at GDC'09 and we stayed in touch, got talking and it went from there really.

The first two games in the series have been previously release for PC download. Have there been any changes made for their Oddboxx appearance?

Unfortunately not. I believe the original intention was to go back and add Achievements to them, improve the ingame graphics and just generally making them more modern Windows friendly. However I think we actually spent around 8 months hunting for all this stuff last year, and just couldn't find it all. We had a few gaps here in their in the backup history which meant it just wasn't possible to get that stuff up and running, which is sad really as it would have been very nice to update them.

Munch's Oddysee was one of the first Xbox games ever released. How hard was it to get the game converted over to the PC platform?

As I said we didn't actually work on that until the very end. All I can really comment on is that it took the developers over a year to get there.

Are there any new content additions made to the Munch's Oddysee PC port?

None at all, other than the achievements, which there are 27 or 28.

We understand that Stranger's Wrath was particularly hard to port for the PC. Can you be more specific on why it was so difficult to get the PC port working?

The original OWI team wrote their own propriety engine for the Xbox, as such they did a lot of tricks to get more out of the hardware in terms of performance and look. A lot of these tricks are NOT compatible with the Windows versions of DirectX as such we would have had to have re-written major systems completely, this just wasn't practical. We ended up taking a different route, and letting the system work as it was on the Xbox, but to take the last step of those render calls and use OpenGL to render out the final "to screen" stage of the process.

Is there any new content added to the PC version of Stranger's Wrath?

We've added Achievements as with Munch, and we've made some other additions, but not really in terms of new content, we've added multiple screen resolution support, still all 4:3 as that's the way the original game was written, and we will be updating this later with native widescreen support as well as other display options, in terms of resolution, it is impossible for us to add things like the ability to enable/disable shadows etc, as that stuff is actually tied into other systems in the game.

Lorne Lanning has said in the past how much he likes the Steam platform for selling PC games. If The Oddboxx is successful could we see new PC Oddworld games come out for digital download?

Lorne and I have had long discussions on this, and we both see the industry going Digital only in a number of years, be it with something Cloud based, or as with Steam a download delivery service. So right now anything new we work on we will use Digital as our first port of call.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about The Oddboxx?

Nothing beyond that, we really hope the fans enjoy it.


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