After finding the situation with EA (which published OWI's Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath on Xbox in 2005) "unworkable," Lanning recounted, OWI turned to Majesco to fund and publish the Fangus project, another Xbox game built on Stranger's core framework. But only a month after the game's announcement, "the shenanigans started" and OWI shut down its development studio. "Sometimes developers get fired by publishers and sometimes developers fire publishers," Lanning said coyly, "and that's probably all I should say about it."
Publisher "incompetence" aside, Fangus did sound like an odd pitch: A "close to the Earth" dog-man herdsman turned "pit fighting" slave -- to the Russian-like cat mafia -- who escapes his years-long imprisonment a hardened killer dead set on vengeance and the liberation of his people ("the timeless mythical battle between cats and dogs," in other words). Also, Fangus has terminal rabies and "would control a flock of ravenous sheep-like creatures to take down enemies and solve puzzles," according to GI's description. "We wanted it to be really hardcore," Lanning concluded.
What sounds pretty much like an amazing game concept to us is not always such an easy sell on the mainstream market. It's no stretch of the imagination to see why this stretch-of-the-imagination never made it much beyond the blueprint phase. Not that Fangus is just a memory, but Oddworld Inhabitants has learned its lesson. "[We] are not focused on doing story games in that way anymore," Lanning explained. "That doesn't mean that we wouldn't license the property to another developer who does very good story games. But we're aiming for a different type of chemistry all together. We're looking more at where social gaming and networking is colliding. We're looking more at free-to-play item sales rather than $60 of product."
After being "blown away" by the reception of its back catalog on Steam, OWI has turned to developer Just Add Water to remake Stranger's Wrath for PSN. Beyond that, OWI seems be looking into a freemium-based evolution of Oddworld, supported by micro-payments from engaged players. "Our focus is not to build big, long story games," Lanning reiterated. "Our focus is to build a really rich mythos where people get to engage in their own narrative, and that sounds abstract -- I can't say much more about it, but that's where we believe things are heading. So the idea of building another Stranger, for us personally, is not even on our radar."
[Pictured: Fangus cover art; source: Game Informer]
- Key specs
- Reviews • 91
- Game format Optical disc, Downloadable
- Online features Multiplayer, Voice chat, Video chat, Store, Browser
- Drive capacity 500 GB
- Controller type Wired, Wireless
- Motion controls Camera / optical
- Video outputs HDMI
- Released 2013-11-22