A look behind the scenes at this benchmark in cinematic gaming.
NintendoWorldReport: How was the unique visual and animation style of "Another World" birthed?
Eric Chahi: It was born from a technical choice to create a game with 2D polygons, as the approach I used overcame technical memory limitations. For example, it only needs a few points to create shapes which cover the entire screen, which is much fewer than traditional bitmaps. I lost detail using this style due to the missing pixels, but I gained the ability to create huge animations or do movie-style cuts without any load latency with polygons. I had the desire to create a game with a movie flavor, so this approach was perfect thanks to its strong visual particularities. It provides a very specific style. Also I have been influenced by science fiction or fantasy work from artists like Michael Whelan, Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben. Another World is of course in color, but black-and-white illustrations were a major guide to understanding how to create objects and volume with simple lines or shapes. Another World’s style leaned more toward suggesting things than describing them in great detail.
NWR: What drove you to have so little visible UI in this game?
Chahi: I just wanted to immerse the player as much as possible in the game’s universe. Onscreen score counters were very common at the time, but they made the player focus on something which pierces a game’s overall immersion. It’s sort of reminiscent of those horrible pop-up ads we have everywhere.
NWR: Why did you decide to create the game as a platformer where you directly controlled the character as opposed to a point-and-click adventure where the control was a little more indirect?
Chahi: Simply put, I wanted to make an action game which gave players a more engaging relation with the game world, and again a point-and-click format would have added some UI overlays. Funny thing about that though - during development, I showed the game to Virgin France to see whether they were interested in publishing it. Their producer thought the game was too hard and told me to change it to a point and click adventure! It really was a trend back then, everyone was doing point and click games.
NWR: When I played the game growing up, I knew it by the name "Out of this World". Are there any specific reasons that the game had a different title in North America, and another different title ("Outer World") in Japan?
Chahi: There was an American TV soap opera airing at the time named Another World. For this reason, Interplay preferred to change the name. For the game’s Japanese title, Outer World, it was probably just to have a title that sounded better in Japanese. I personally like Outer World very much.
NWR: As a child, the opening cinematic of Another World was always a highlight. Another game you worked on, "Heart of Darkness", has also been categorized as "cinematic". What do cinematics allow you to bring to the video game medium? Since they're non-interactive, is there a tension with the more player-driven parts of a game?
Chahi: Your question is very interesting because while both games have cinematics, they use them very differently. In Heart of Darkness, they were primarily used to tell the story. The beginning and the ending scenes are often connected to the gameplay through a fluent transition. For example, when Andy reaches the top of the cliff at the end of the first level, the camera moves fluently from a game-oriented view to a completely cinematic scene. Each cinematic is also fairly long, running for several minutes apiece. In Another World, it is the opposite. All cutscenes are very short, lasting just a few seconds. The apparition of the black monster, taking the laser gun in the jail - These cutscenes, except the introduction of course, are brief punctuations. They serve to point out a specific gameplay action or event. I think that’s another thing which makes Another World an outsider even today in comparison of other games using cinematics. Gameplay and cutscenes are much more woven together this way.
NWR: The ending of "Another World" is pretty open-ended. What thoughts or lessons do you think players of the game should come away with?
Chahi: To be honest, I’m not sure. I like very much the idea that anyone can have their own interpretation based on the climax. Friendship is the strongest theme in the game though; to me, that’s the most important thing to come away thinking about.
NWR: Another World is still seeing releases more than two decades after its initial release. Why do you think the game has had the longevity to remain relevant for modern day gamers?
Chahi: I think the main reason Another World has aged well is the pacing and non-verbal narrative, which is immersive and strongly linked to the gameplay. It has something a bit poetic to its storytelling. Even today some new players still discover the game for the first time and enjoy it. Another World is a difficult game to play, but it’s also improved a lot over the years; I did a lot of iteration since its first release on Amiga. People would be surprised how hard and unforgiving it was originally compared to the most recent versions.