Another Developer down: Oddworld Inhabitants?

I’ve been seeing in various boards (shacknews) that Oddworld went out yesterday. Anyone else see this?

Such a bummer. I hate seeing developers go out of business. Stranger got great reviews as well. I wish everyone on that team the best in finding new jobs.

Well this was posted a few days ago at IGN:

Unlike Stranger’s Wrath the game is not being published by EA and IGN’s sources tell us that the title may not be handled by Majesco for much longer either. While the game reportedly has mature subject matter, Oddworld Inhabitants have consistently delivered high-quality products in the past and if need be, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to find a new publisher. Barring complications, the game is scheduled to be released some time next year.

Hopefully there’s just some wires crossed here and they’re not out of business, just looking for a new publisher. I thought Stranger was excellent, though I wasn’t really a fan of their other games.

Here a link to the full article: http://xbox.ign.com/articles/599/599137p1.html?fromint=1

Maybe someone else can shed some light on this?

Lorne Lanning gives his side of the story:

http://www.gamespy.com/articles/599/599811p1.html

I think that’s a good move for Lorne; Oddworld’s strength has always been the quality of its art and character design, and its weakness has always, always been its inability to make the gameplay sing. Similar to what people always are accusing id of, but here it actually has merit. Stranger’s Wrath was just a pale imitation of an action platformer, getting essential components wrong.

I don’t know why they couldn’t have just gotten themselves some people who could tell the difference between good gameplay/bad gameplay, but in its stead this is the next best thing.

After reading that article, it’s pretty clear they’ll never release another game again. Suuuure, it’s a choice to shut down operations, move to another city, “outsource” various elements of game production, and keep the team from getting “too big.”

Sounds like Case & Romero and their big plans to make PDA games.

After reading that article, it’s pretty clear they’ll never release another game again.

I don’t know…more and more developers are moving in that direction, and for good reason – unless you’ve got several irons on the fire at all times, you’re basically paying a good chunk of your people to sit around during the pre-pro process. Keeping your company small, licensing tech and outsourcing the grunt work to contractors (and maybe bringing a core group in-house for the duration of actual production) would be a key way to keep overhead low during fallow perioids, while also allowing a quick ramp up to full development once deals are made.

Of course, I have no idea if Oddworld would be the best team to pull this off (I’ve heard various stories of mass disorganization and chaotic development), but it still is an interesting and potential workable approach.

On a side note, I believe Wideload Games (Stubbs the Zombie) is using a similar tactic, and might be more equipped to pull it off. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Not saying this is true in Oddworld’s case (because I simply don’t know if it is) but it’s never as simple as “getting some people who could tell the difference between good gameplay/bad gameplay.” There quite frankly isn’t a terrible shortage of those people around. Company culture as well as the people who make the final decisions on things are always the determining factors in these cases… most upper level people that are clueless don’t realize they are clueless and hence won’t listen to anyone but themselves. Again, not saying this is necessarily the case for Oddworld.

Charles Bloom, former (lead?) programmer at Oddworld, writes

Oddworld has ceased game production operations. The official release is here . Now, I know you’re all dying to send me job offers and condolences and such, but stop, I’m fine and I’m not really looking for jobs right now. If you’d like to offer jobs to the talented people at the company, please send mail to [email protected]

I’ve been privileged to work with a great crew at Oddworld; I’m proud of the work we did. The games didn’t ever work out quite the way we wanted, but at least we tried to do something creative and different, and mostly succeeded. It’s a real tragedy that Stranger’s Wrath is not getting any marketting at all; I think it’s a pretty good game (and the reviews bear that out). It’s also a shame that we aren’t able to make another game on the XBox; I’m proud of the engine we made, and the pipeline and toolchain and process that we finally had set up for our new game (Fangus) was really smooth. Our overall development process is the best I’ve ever seen at a small developer; I feel like we just got the factory really humming, all ready to pump out widgets, and now we’re closing the doors. It’s a shame that the great team we have here is going to be broken up and spread around the industry. But, so goes the tide of the game industry.

I believe that what Lanning is trying is not far away of what Miswalker is going to try with Microsoft.

A small studio writes the script, the characters, the design, the creative aspect of the game and then a big, technical focused team from a publisher executes it.

I think that model could have a future next generation. The actual model offers no future for small-middle developers in next generation, the technical part is too big right now. Next generation needs a more modular approach.

At GDC the Oddworld booth was touting a move to Emeryville, near me. If that’s so, then Oddworld will be right next door to Pixar. Appropriate.

Here’s hoping they saved some money hats.

I don’t think it’s a good business idea. As most seasoned game developers know, “coming up with ideas” is the easy part, so why would anyone pay for that?

Sounds like Oddworld is completely out of the gaming business and is looking at movies/TV:

http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com/thr/columns/video_games_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000884458

He obviously wanted to get the hell out of SLO and be where the action is. Although if he really wanted to get out of games and into film he moved the wrong direction.

Not if he’s doing CG films. The capital of CG film work is right next to Berkeley, and Dreamworks’ CG studios are also in the Bay Area.

It’s sad to think we’ll never see the remaining two Oddworld games, but I’ll go see an Oddworld film on opening day, no question.

thats exactly how I read into it.

I find it difficult to beleive that a studio with 4 very successful titles couldn’t fund their own work in the same way that companies such as Valve, iD, Epic, DE, Raven etc do.

let the self-absorbed asshole hide his uber-liberal political messages in his toons. I wasn’t exactly crazy about their last two titles anyhow.

Notice one thing about the companies on your list? They all mainly publish PC games. Is there a developer of mainly platform games that has had the same success as those listed, to let them live independently for a long period of time? I never thought about it until you listed them, but it seems everyone of the console focused companies I can think of has been eaten by a publisher.

Not to say there aren’t failures on the PC side, but are there the same successes on the console side? Even the GTA guys got bought. is that because they needed cash, or they just had so much cash and the deal was too stinking big to pass up?

Chet

The GTA guys got bought before GTA III, chet. And Insomniac and Naughty Dog are still independent, aren’t they? And probably more successful than at least Epic and Raven.

Naughty Dog is owned by Sony I believe.

Correct, Naughty Dog is owned by Sony.
http://games.ign.com/objects/025/025454.html

And Matt yes, your correct, DMA was bought by Rockstar in 1999. I was thinking that rockstar got bought by take-two, that happened post GTA III (right? i can’t find the info on that one).

Chet