Oddworld: New n Artsy

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Oddworld splash
Fleischer-Bot

By Fleischer-Bot

Fleischer-Bot is a student who loves animation, drawing, and writing,
and hopes to become a filmmaker

The Art of

Oddworld: New n Artsy

Oddworld Inhabitants was founded in 1994 by Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna as a video-game company, and have made a mark in video-game animation and art, creating whole new creatures and characters that, whilst wholly different in looks and body, seem to work in a biologically sound way that seems at once natural and unnatural. Throughout the years, the company has improved upon and expanded their satirical and incredibly designed world through each iteration, and will do so again with the upcoming Oddworld Soulstorm, which seems to be ready to show us Oddworld through a whole new lens. As the wait goes on, it should be worthwhile to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the company and its world before their new vision arrives.

Oddworld Inhabitants

The company was founded on the goal of making beautiful and socially-relevant games that spoke about issues such as the rampant virus of extreme consumerism and over-industrialization, as well as the exploitation of natural resources, animals, and native populations in the pursuit of money. Abe, the Mudokon slave who wakes up to his people’s plight by freeing himself and them from their enslavement and near transformation into meat-products at the hands of their Glukkon captors, was a moody and funny story that struck a nerve in critics and players alike, earning a sequel and two more games that focused on other characters; one game had a character called Munch, who was the last Gabbit left in the Mudos seas after the rest of his species had been hunted, who worked with Abe in order to save his kind from true extinction by saving the last Gabbit eggs from an auction, as well as save animals known as Fuzzles from being tested on by scientist Vykkers.

The other game took place on the Western Side of Mudos, far away from Abe and Munch, and focused on Stranger, a character who collected bounties on dangerous criminals in order to earn enough cash to get a surgery done on him to save his life. However, fate puts him in charge of a much bigger challenge than he bargained for…

All these games were and are well thought-out, well-written, and well-executed, and to this day remain unmatched in their arena.

The Characters and Creatures

The denizens of Oddworld, from the feral to the sentient, have been beautifully realized in the cinematics and art as shown below. Even in the still images, heaps of personality can be sensed off these creatures; The happy, smiling face of Abe the Mudokon, the cold, impatient looks and posture of the Vykkers, the stoic yet ready pose of Stranger, the angry, inquiring sneer of the Glukkon, and the ferocity of the Paramites and Scrabs all come full bore to the eyes of the viewer through fantastic, meticulous design.

The sheer amount of work put into even the spots on the Slig’s skin is truly remarkable, and shows that design in this industry, when put to the extreme, shows us what the human mind and hand is capable of.

The World

The entire planet of Oddworld hasn’t been explored yet, only focusing on the continent of Mudos, but the focus on this land is as paramount as the focus on the beings that live on it. The dirtiness of Soulstorm Brewery, the foreboding grandeur of Necrum, one of the geologically expansive but barely alive areas of Western Mudos, and this concept art of a hidden sanctuary provide, just like the above, so much life and personality through their details, and showcase a visually told story of the world’s modern and ancient history through its landmarks, and how unnatural elements in some places such as Soulstorm Brewery have either drastically changed the land for the worse and abuse it uncaringly with the noxious gas they emit, whilst the sanctuary uses the environment to its advantage and makes it part of its own infrastructure thereby keeping both the people living within and the inner land it uses to support itself alive and healthy.

This divide showcases one of the messages of Oddworld: the disrespect shown to nature can be balanced out by respecting it with safe utilization for the self, as well as basically leaving intact or having a very minor impact on the environment around you.

The Process

During development, the characters, scenes, vehicles, and much more are worked on to ensure a proper vision is achieved. Below are creature designs/blueprints, and two vehicle blueprints that shows the work and detail put into even the base concepts of the universe that the company has created.

The creature sketches of Sligs, Glukkons, and Munch the Gabbit, along with an Elum, showcase the thought that was put into the movement, inner-structure, biology (or in the Slig’s case, mecha-biology), and physical presence and area they take up. The Vyyker cruiser sketch showcases how organism-esque features are used to accentuate vehicles on Oddworld belonging to certain species, as shown with the Vykker cruiser; the entire vehicle is built to look like a bio-mechanical monstrosity, which compliments the Vykker’s own evil figure. It’s the same with the FeeCo Depot train, meant to resemble a Glukkon head, as it is a transport to and fro from their business complexes, and being a heavy vehicle as well, represents the Glukkons as they are; lumbering titans of industry who have a wide-ranging influence.

As we have now seen and read, Oddworld Inhabitants is a truly unique and fantastically minded company in their narrative and artistic vision, and the gaming and animation scene awaits the next entry in their interactive portfolio.

Sources: The Oddworld Inhabitants website and Facebook post regarding their history, and The Oddworld Graphics Gallery. Special thanks to the site’s webmaster Xavier for permission to use photos he compiled on there!