Above: Lorne Lanning has a copy of my book. He figured as a big character in the making of the original Xbox.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: It’s a little like the latest Trials game. It’s still side-scrolling, but it has more of a Z dimension to it. A train comes at you from that direction.

Lanning: Yeah, we do that too. That’s coming up. With Brew, the thing about Brew is that we wanted to have a really flammable type of force that you could control and manipulate. If I had just a bottle cap, that would provoke a spark here. That’ll start to burn. I can spread this through ceilings, through other areas. At the same time, this is one of the reasons I have fire extinguishers. I can also spray my guys and make them fire-repellent.

I can take my fire extinguisher into the crafting and add some Brew, add a lighter, and add a battery and some wires. That gives me a flamethrower. Now I can put my fire extinguisher here and a flamethrower there. Flamethrowers are very dangerous. They have an amazing ability to stick to most everything. Here’s another case where I can’t go any further. If I try to open that electrical gate, that guy would keep it firing. I have to deal with him.

Let’s make one of these, assign it here — got him. Now I can go onward. With puzzles we’re learning to get more into action as part of the puzzles, rather than just twitch timing. We want you to be able to explore these environments, even though these are the guys you’re supposed rescue. You can walk around, navigate it all, figure out what’s going. You’re not under any real threat.

Each of these things up here is a guard tower. If it has a number five, there’s five guys in there that could be summoned out under certain conditions. We wanted a more emergent level. You have the ability to explore and do all these things, but once you start rescuing guys and pulling them off their jobs, everything changes. Once they drop their hats and they become followers, the whole place starts lighting up. Alarms, scary lights, scary guards coming out. The world starts emerging on you.

Above: Oddworld: Soulstorm has beautiful graphics.

Image Credit: Oddworld Inhabitants

Anything I’ve crafted, if we go back into this, I can take over to my followers. Say I want to give my followers a bunch of Brews to throw. I’ll give them a bunch of bottlecaps to throw and start fires. I want to craft some Molotov cocktails, so I can take a bottle and a dirty rag and a lighter and craft a bunch of those. I’ll gift those to my followers real quick and then make a few for myself. I’ll craft up some Fizzy Pops too. I can increase the power of these by adding Blastos. And then of course I can keep powering these up through more and more levels, but this is good enough to demonstrate.

Some of this stuff, you can have fun trying to figure out how far you can get into different areas. These things have a lot of capability. One thing I can do is assign my guys to become more aggressive. Even if I’m not fighting, they’ll fight for me. When threats come along they’ll start to throw stuff and take them out. I have a mob that I’m working with now. There, they got him. The world stays more persistent in that respect. I’ll blow away some of these floors. My goal is to get as many of these guys out alive as I can.

Now I’m going to go through a gauntlet. This elevator has what we call air supply delivery cannons. Then I suddenly have an air cannon, like a potato cannon. Anything you’ve got in your inventory, you can use with that. You, as the player, have the inventory cannon, but the Mudokons you’ve armed are your support cover. As I go through here, the world’s going to wake up again. All the alarms go off. We wanted to get this real feeling of mayhem going on, a storm of visual effects from all the consumer products, lots of pinks and greens.

Each of my Mudokons also has keys, so they get me further into the level. I’ll grab some more of these guys. You notice that they have much more agility than in our previous games. I’ll blow a hole through the floor and let them shoot on out. My guys can find their own way, or I can leave them anywhere, like in a tower defense situation. Now I’ll pull this down and take them into the next level.

I’ll go through another one of these gauntlets, so I’ll want to arm these guys up real fast with more of these. I’ll gift those to my followers. First I need to take away these bottlecaps, take away water. We don’t need that. Instead I’ll give them all of my Fizzy Pops. I’ll get by with crafting up some more of these. Not as sensational, but they work. Now you see that all of my followers are represented by this icon on the lower right of the screen. I lost one guy in that battle. That didn’t work out so well.

Here I come to the train crossing. Recruit a couple more guys here, let’s go. C’mon, hurry up, hurry up! Just keeping that pressure on. Oh, shit! No! I’m so sorry. God, that was just brutal. All that work. C’mon, guys, hurry up! Get out of the way! And then this gets us into terminal 2. Here I’ve gotten a cheat charm. These open up a different store, which is basically the metaphysical store.

At the end of each level, if you choose to have this display on, it’ll give you a full tally of your stats, the achievements, whether you found the secret areas, everything that’s happening. Each of these saved and you can go back and play each level and master the achievements, master your karma, do your speedruns. There’s a whole series of bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond. Then, if you get all diamond, we’ll open up a couple more achievements per level.

The first playthrough, we estimate that to be viable it has to be a minimum of about 12 hours. But the people who are milking it, there’s more than 100 hours that you can spend.

GamesBeat: How much of it is in that kind of environment, the factory? Is it a lot of the game? Or do we see different places like the train?

Lanning: Oh, yeah. We start off in a hideout, with some more native environments. You escape that towering inferno. Then we go into old, abandoned towns that are a little more like Stranger, these old mill towns and mining towns. We have ancient ruins, pretty spooky-looking areas. We wind up at gas stations for trains, big fuel depots. Then we go to a Slix barracks and the Necromines, a mining factory that’s built on top of a graveyard, basically. They’re mining the bones. That’s the other secret ingredient in the Brew.

You need to hijack the train in the train level so you can carry your 300 guys from the previous game and keep them safe while you’re on the run. You’re stacking them all up. At the end of the game, if you played it perfectly, you’ll probably wind up with about 1,300 saved Mudokons. But you could have zero. The idea is you could play the game and kill everybody, with a really terrible karma count, or you could play the game and kill nobody, with the ultimate, most positive, new-agey type of friendly touchy-feely run.

Above: Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus came out in 1998.

Image Credit: Oddworld Inhabitants

GamesBeat: How similar would you say this is to the original gameplay?

Lanning: With the original gameplay, Abe could sneak, run, jump, and do the basic moves he was doing here. But he didn’t have an inventory system. You could only play through with one guy at a time in the original game, too. When we remade that with New and Tasty, all the guys in the level could follow you at one time, which was really taken from Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus.

In the original game, you could throw something, but it was just like, “I need to solve this puzzle. There’s an item I have to find in this room and then I can throw it.” But it wasn’t an inventory item you could carry with you to other places. It had no accounting system either, no wallet. It was really about what level you’re in, how fast you get through, and how many Mudokons you could save. That was the basis of it.

Now we’ve really gone off on the collecting, the exploring, finding secret areas, and community. Healing guys you find that are dying, crafting antidotes, crafting things with medicinal properties.

One thing you’re not seeing here, if you’re a completionist, the leaderboards that come up at the very end — if you want to get perfect platinum badges and compare that to the rest of the community, or zero deaths for slaves, or zero deaths for yourself, all of those things are different verticals you can play along and explore. That’s one of the big motivators. I want to see how I beat everyone.

This is what we’ve been doing. We thought that were in a fairly good position to make a more unique offering to the crowd, because it’s this far along. We don’t plan on giving out a playable. We just plan on dosing them with more information throughout the year, without blowing too much about the world.