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If you’re a longtime PlayStation fan, then hearing the word Oddworld probably conjures up some great memories for you. As announced last year during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a remake of the very first game in the series called Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is currently in development at Just Add Water.
I recently had a chance to speak with the chief executive officer of Just Add Water, Stewart Gilray, about the studio and its upcoming games. If you’re looking for more information on New ‘n’ Tasty or want to find out just who these guys are, you’ll definitely want to have a look at the conversation below.
I want to take a minute to thank Gilray for taking time out of his day to speak with me. Keep your eyes peeled for Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and Gravity Crash Ultra when they release later this spring. For more on the folks at Just Add Water, you can find them here.
Derek Nichols: For those who may not be familiar with your studio, please give us a rundown. Who is Just Add Water, and how were you founded?
Stewart Gilray: I started the studio in October 2006 with a view to being an equivalent of a movie industry production house for games. It became clear within a couple of years that the industry wasn’t ready for that yet, so [we] started to slowly build up an internal development team. We are now 17 strong and have some great plans. We have worked on around 10 titles over nine platforms over the years, but these days we tend to concentrate on the PlayStation family of hardware.
Nichols: First off, I love the studio name, so I have to ask. Where did the name originate from?
Gilray: It’s a pretty “hippy” origin. Humans are about 70 percent water, so by adding people to the creative/development process, you’re adding water to that.
Nichols: What games have inspired you and your team growing up?
Gilray: I’ve been in the business since 1988, so personally, there’s way too many games to list here, but for me it’s story-led adventure-action style games. As for the rest of the team, it’s a little bit of everything.
Nichols: You’re currently working on a new and improved version of Oddworld called New ‘n’ Tasty. For those who are not familiar with this franchise, can you give a rundown of what people can expect?
Gilray: Well, the premise is always the individual versus the big corporation. The David versus Goliath type thing. But what makes Oddworld more than that is the characters that live there. There does seem to be an element of crazy about them. They’re incredibly funny, not just looking either. And that’s exactly what attracted me to the original game on PS1 back in 1997, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. It was the characters and the humor.
Nichols: What’s new about New ‘n’ Tasty, especially for fans of the franchise?
Gilray: Remember, this is effectively a remake of the game that started it all off, but we’ve gone overboard in bringing the world itself to life, not just the characters. With the original, it was about the character. The big difference is the game is now entirely running 3D graphics in real time, so there’s no more screen flips. It’s all smooth-scrolling worlds and breathtaking vistas all running in real time.
Nichols: How did your studio get pulled in to working on this project?
Gilray: We’ve been working now with [publisher] Oddworld Inhabitants since late 2009, so this has been almost five years in the making. It’s something I’d suggested to a mutual friend of myself and [series creator Lorne Lanning] for years, but when we spoke about doing it, it took some time to explain, “Why?”. The thing for me was to show the game to a new generation of players on new systems.
Nichols: Many people got their first look at your game when Lorne Lanning took to the stage during Sony’s E3 press conference. That must have been pretty exciting for the team!
Gilray: Incredibly. I was actually backstage at E3 as that was happening, so to hear the audience roar as the game was announced by [PlayStation’s] Adam Boyes was crazy — easily the loudest of all the indie titles shown there.
Nichols: You’re also working on Gravity Crash Ultra. Can you give fans a rundown of this title as well?
Gilray: This is the long fan-requested PS Vita version of a game we made for PlayStation 3 back in 2009. I spoke to Shahid Ahmad at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe about a year ago about it, and we talked about it for a while, then we started real work on it around Gamescom last year. I guess we’re a few weeks from finishing that off as well.
In short, it’s a retro-style, 360-degree shooter with loud neon graphics and gazillions of particles.
Nichols: I know you guys are working diligently over there, but are there any release dates/windows currently for either title?
Gilray: Actually, both Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty and Gravity Crash Ultra are due spring 2014, so not long to go now.
Nichols: Anything else you’d like fans and gamers to know?
Gilray: Just that we are incredibly humbled by all the support our fans give us, and after a quiet year last year of no releases, this promises to be an incredibly busy year for us.