Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee is a platform video game developed by Oddworld Inhabitants and published by GT Interactive. It was released in 1997 for the PlayStation video game console, MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows in North America, Australia and Europe. The game was released under the title Abe a GoGo (エイブ・ア・ゴーゴー Eibu A Gōgō) in Japan for the PlayStation by publisher SoftBank, with a PC version following in 2001.
The game centers on the titular Abe, a Mudokon slave at the RuptureFarms meat processing factory. When he discovers that he and his fellow Mudokons are to be slaughtered, he decides to escape and liberate as many enslaved Mudokons as he can. The player assumes the role of Abe as he attempts a perilous quest to emancipate his downtrodden people.
Tagline on back of CD case
That’s me! My name is Abe!
I was employee of the year. Now, I’m dead meat.
I cross the meanest boss in the world: Molluck the Glukkon.
My whole life has changed in just one day.
I was working late one night at Rupture Farms...
We used to make Meech Munchies, until the Meeches were through.
We still made Paramite Pies, and we made some good Scrab Cakes too!
I thought I had a good job, but that was before I knew.
How we'd make New and Tasty, I was still to find,
The truth, it turned out, now that would blow my mind.
The Glukkons were scared, 'cause profits were grim.
Paramites and Scrabs, had been turning up thin.
But Molluck was cool, he had a plan.
This new kind of meat? IT WAS US!
I just had to escape, I just had to be free,
and I didn’t even know I had a destiny.
So... GET ME OUTTA HERE!
I had just got past those Slogs, when the strangest thing I saw.
A big moon was before me, and its face was my paw.
Then I fell down a cliff and smashed my head.
When some Big Face appeared, and said I was dead.
Said our land was changing, was imbalanced as best.
He told me my fate was to rescue the rest.
For Paramites and Scrabs had been sacred once,
That was before RuptureFarms turned them into lunch.
And they live in temples, and that's where they still nest.
And facing these creatures, that was my test.
- Scar Quote #1: The Big Face said I had learned much through my quest.
This hand scar would help me, for more danger awaits.
I would need its full power to complete my fate.
- Scar Quote #2: My test was completed. I expected to rest.
Then Big face revealed the intent of my quest.
The two scars together, on the back of each hand...
could shout down RuptreFarms, and restore the lost land.
With hand scars complete, the spirits took form,
Now my chant had power, RuptureFarms should be warned.
I found the switch to kill most of the power,
and there I was, in the final hour.
Molluck saw what I was doing, he was pissed!
He ordered us all killed.
Well, I'd rescued Mudokons, but who's gonna rescue me?!
Cause here I am, face to face with Molluck the Glukkon.
Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!
I saw Paramonia, ancient and wild,
where Paramites lived before I was a child.
But we rounded them up, ignored their cries.
We cut ‘em all up for Paramite Pies.
I witnessed Scrabania, desolate and bare.
Boneyards of Scrabs that used to room there.
Now they're cut, ground and mashed into little cakes
The critters destroyed for profit's sake.
I looked upon the temple, where the scraps should still nest.
Suriving these creatures, this would be my test.
About Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
- On a very practical level, we were striving for a deeper and more engaging sense of story and emotional character development for games. We brought character development, production design, animation, and effects from the film industry. We wanted to feel like you were playing not just a challenge, but someone’s fate – someone that you had to be responsible for.
On a more philosophical level, I wanted to take the most pop of pop culture, and convert it into meaningful modern day myths that would have great appeal to a wider audience. We also believed that people could find more empowering messages through gaming. So we targeted the anti-hero as our main character. Abe wasn’t the muscle-bound superhero that you wanted to be – he was the rather pathetic chump that you actually are. It was about rendering the journey out of the more powerless beings that we see ourselves as and at the place we most typically are, which is at the bottom of the global corporate food chain.
- It was film that was the key inspiration, but from games the most fun I personally had, aside from pure racing and arcade-style games, was the great early side-scrollers like Prince of Persia, Out of This World and Flashback. I loved those games, but most importantly those games made me feel like I was controlling a lifeform more than a piece of art in some challenge contest.
- I think the game served a lot of people who wanted to see deeper and more developed characters in games that had more real world relevance to them. I believed, and still do, that the audience wants richer entertainment than they are currently getting.
I also hear a lot of people in the business claim the game inspired them to want to start making games. But I have to say the most intangible rewards were the heart-breaking and inspiring fan mails from people whose lives the game so deeply affected. It’s uncanny the impact the game had on some people, but it was why I personally wanted to make the games.
- Lorne Lanning, "Behind The Classics – Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee" by Fred Dutton, PlatStation.blog, (2012/09/28).
- Ravi: You said you had a story at that time. When Oddworld’s Abe’s Oddysee first came out it was praised at the time for its universe, its story and its approach to storytelling itself. What served as the inspirations of that universe? How did you start to create it and how did you melt it into something that would become Abe’s Oddysee?
- Lorne: A couple key ingredients. One was studying fan cultures.Trying to figure out what builds strong followings for people. Why people feel more attached to one film versus another– or one property versus another. When you analyze that, one property usually has more depth. It usually has a more resonating meaning. A deep universe, well fleshed out feels like you know it better than your reading, or your viewer knows it. They feel like they’re uncovering something that a creative team is really ahead of them on in terms of the believability of the universe. There are so many factors.
What makes people want tattoos of a motor cycle brand or a rock band? What brings people to feel so passionate about properties that they’re willing to make life long commitments to something that they didn’t even create? I was fascinated by that and came away with a lot of takeaways.
The other factor was, I always had a different outlook on life. Maybe because my dad was in the nuclear submarines as I was growing up throughout the cold war. Or serious global issues. My favorite fishing places, in Vermont, had died as a result of acid rain. These were the most gorgeous lakes and there was no fishing in them anymore. They looked clear; they were absolutely beautiful, but all the fish were dead. I was realizing there were cold plants in the midwest; and they were also mentioning cold plants merging in China. This was in the 1980s. I was seeing this big impact on the environment.
At the same time the media was basically silent and people were ignorant of what was going on in the world in an environmental level. In my own circles, people just weren’t aware of these things. If you talked about things like the meat raising practices of fast food companies burning the lungs of the planet in South America for cheaper grazing lands and cheaper meat, people thought you were a conspiracy theorist. They were really uneducated. Even educated people had no idea what was going on on the planet.
That was very stressing for a kid spending a lot of time in the woods connecting with nature. I found that really disturbing. I wasn’t looking at it as a business venture. I was coming at it as, “what if stories are richer? What if we could get connected through characters that are more like we are?” I was feeling pretty helpless in a world that makes decisions and screws up our abilities independent of our control; independent of our vote. Since that time we’ve seen the rise of the 99 percent. At that time people were saying capitalism is great. That was disturbing. So as an artist, people reinterpret what they’re seeing in the world. What makes that message resonate is A. there’s substance to it. B. it’s told beautifully. C. it has respect for the audience.
My point is, when you see these things in the world, I felt more and more people were feeling more isolated. And I felt more and more people were headed for the third world. If you look at the 2008 financial crisis in the United States; what happened to the middle class and how it’s now basically poverty class. It’s all around us, and it’s pervasive, and it’s got a lot of momentum. In the ’80s people were still riding high. Global Warming– Al Gore hadn’t made his film yet.
It took something like that to get people to start paying attention. If I agree to what many other climate scientists are saying is a whole other issue. What I think we can agree on is that human impact on the Earth has been substantial. When I started making Oddworld, that’s what made my heart heavy when I went to sleep every night. When I’d travel the world and see different places that’s what would break my heart, the continued impact of the environment and what that probably meant for our future.
But who wants to see a documentary game?
- Lorne Lanning, "Oddworld Interview With Lorne Lanning: New ‘N’ Tasty, Future Trends and More" by Ravi Sinha, Gaming Bolt, (19th, Dec. 2015).