Lorne Lanning

oddworld logo

Biography

Lorne Lanning. CCO / Co-founder Oddworld Inhabitants, Inc.

abe

Abe in key art for Oddworld: Soulstorm, directed by Lanning.

Lorne Lanning has extensive experience in computer graphics and digital media, having worked as various visual supervisor leads at Hollywood's Rhythm & Hues, and is now the co-founder (alongside computer graphics veteran Sherry McKenna) and CCO of much revered video game developer and publisher Oddworld Inhabitants.

Lanning is best known for creating the lovable Abe character and several widely-acclaimed Oddworld games. The first, Abe's Oddysee (1997) made massive waves at industry expos and on release was awarded the "Nobel Prize" by PC Computing magazine and numerous console achievements such as "Console Game of the Month" and "Electronic Game of the Year".

Lanning followed up with Abe's Exoddus (1998) - "Top 25 PSX Games Ever" and "Best PSX Adventure Game" - to much acclaim. Lanning continued to craft engaging and award winning games during the 2000s such as Munch's Oddysee and Stranger's Wrath, with a particular focus on ground-breaking animation and visual fidelity using his previous experience in film and media.

stranger's wrath

Stranger's Wrath (2005) - winner of numerous animation and interactive media awards

Munch's Oddysee was awarded with acclaim such as "Best Computer-Generated Images" and "Outstanding Achievement in Animation" with Stranger's Wrath pulling the likes of "Outstanding Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game" and "Outstanding Achievement: Animation".

After overseeing HD (for PlayStation 3, PS Vita and PC) remakes of the latter two games, Lanning went on to be Creative Director on the highly acclaimed Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, released in 2014, which pushed the boundaries of current expectations of self-financed videogame titles with exemplary production values and art direction.

The latest project from Oddworld, Oddworld: Soulstorm, was released in 2021 with strong support from retail partners at PlayStation and Epic Games. The game's cinematics were singled out by many critics as being another significant leap forward for visual fidelity in video games.

In addition, Lanning has served on the board of directors for The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and also on the "advisory board to the president" for the San Francisco Academy of Art College. He has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the San Francisco Academy of Art College, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Entertainment Consumers Association.

Along with partner Sherry McKenna he was named by Wired Magazine on its 2001 list of "gamemaking gods".

wired magazine cover

Career

Lorne's professional training and career began in the early 1980's at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Here he studied photo-realism and commercial illustration but ultimately felt his visions were being constrained by the limitations of the still image. Lorne helped to support himself through school by working as studio manager and assistant painter to international fine artist, Jack Goldstein. The intellectual depth of Goldstein's paintings and philosophy sparked Lorne to further pursue his interests in technology, film, visual effects, storytelling, and traditional and computer animation, by attending the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia CA.

Lorne's fascination with high technology and its implications to future mass media applications led him to pursue work with the TRW Visualization Center in Redondo Beach, California. Here he worked as technical director of computer animation on projects that visualized aerospace concepts and applications such as the SDI (Star Wars) program.

Forever fascinated by the trail of high-end militaristic technology as it trickled into the commercial entertainment sector, Lorne pursued his interest by taking a position with Rhythm & Hues Studios in Hollywood, CA. Lorne chose Rhythm & Hues because of the cutting edge computer animated work they were doing in commercials, films, station IDs, and with aerospace simulators for motion based ride attractions. While at Rhythm & Hues he worked through several career moves, which included roles of technical director, lead technical director, art director, creative director, and visual effects supervisor.

Projects included network station IDs and feature films, as well as award winning commercials and motion based attractions for Euro Disney, MCA/Universal, the World's Fair, Universal-Japan, Mazda, and Reebok.

Oddworld Inhabitants

In 1994 he convinced long time computer graphics veteran Sherry McKenna (winner of over 30 Clio awards and numerous international film and television awards) to be the co-founder of a new video game development company, Oddworld Inhabitants, inspired by the nature of property universes created by the likes of Tolkien, George Lucas, Jim Henson and Walt Disney. Oddworld has since been dedicated to creating the next generation of digital content by marrying traditional storytelling and animation sensibilities within its uniquely odd interactive universe.

new n tasty at e3 2013

Lanning shows off Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty live on SCEA's E3 conference stage, 2013

The studio attracted top video game and computer animation talent from around the world, and consistently developed hit games that garnered over 6 million units sold and over 100 industry awards including honors from illustration fantasy annuals, international film festivals, and the music industry. Oddworld also co-produced two music video singles, both based upon the Oddworld universe. The first single went on to attain platinum record sales in Europe.

After delivering four titles, the studio closed in 2005, leaving Lorne and Sherry to pursue a more traditional Hollywood production studio model.

In 2009 Oddworld Inhabitants began working to remaster and remake several classic Oddworld games. This naturally led to the development and 2014 release of Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, a ground up remake of Oddworld's first seminal game, Abe's Oddysee.

Following several successful ports of the Oddworld catalog to new platforms, early production work began on Oddworld: Soulstorm in 2016.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, Oddworld Inhabitants released several of their games as limited edition physical products for PlayStation and PC platforms. In 2019 and 2020, three Oddworld games were ported to Nintendo Switch.

Oddworld: Soulstorm was released in 2021 on PlayStation and via the Epic Games Store.

Games

Oddworld: Soulstorm

Soulstorm features Lanning's art direction throughout.

1997 - Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee (PlayStation, Windows)

1999 - Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus (PlayStation, Windows)

2001 - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (Xbox)

2005 - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (Xbox)

2010 - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (Windows)

2010 - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (Windows)

2011 - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)

2012 - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD (PlayStation 3)

2014 - Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)

2014 - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath Mobile (iOS, Android)

2015 - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee Mobile (iOS, Android)

2015 - Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (Xbox One, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android)

2016 - Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (WiiU)

2019 - Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (Nintendo Switch)

2020 - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (Nintendo Switch)

2020 - Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty (Nintendo Switch)

2021 - Oddworld: Soulstorm (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Windows)

Public Speaking and Advisory

dice 2013

Lanning at DICE 2013 with his Properties for the Apocalypse talk, which can be viewed here.

Lanning serves on the Board of Directors of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, the Advisory Board to the President of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the Advisory Board for the CGSociety, and the Advisory Board for Gnomon School of Visual Effects. He is also an annual Jury member for Ballistic Publishing's annual EXPOSÉ Digital art book and also an ongoing Jury member for Into the Pixel "Best in Video Game Art" sponsored by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and LACMA.

Lanning also engages in public speaking for the Federation of American Scientists and their ongoing Digital Frontier efforts to help bridge the gap between video games and public education.

In 2007, Lanning provided the voice for the character of himself on the G4TV show Code Monkeys.

Lanning appearred in a panel discussion at VideoGame Expo on November 3, 2007 to debate Jack Thompson, following a public screening of Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat, a documentary about the violence in videogames issue, in which they both are featured prominently.

Publications


Lanning has Been Featured in the Following Books

Reset: Changing the Way We Look at Video Games by Rusel DeMaria / Berrett-Kohler

Videogame Marketing and PR: Vol. 1 by Scott Steinberg / iUniverse, Inc.

Gamers at Work by Morgan Ramsey / Apress

Opening the Xbox by Dean Takahashi / Prima

The Art of 3D Computer Animation by Isaac V. Kerlow / Wiley

CGI: The Art of the 3D Computer Generated Image by Peter Weishar / Abrams Inc.

High Score - Illustrated History of Video Games by Rusel DeMaria, Johnny I. Wilson / Osborne

1000 Game Heroes by David Choquet / Taschen

Inside Game Design by Iain Simons / Lawrence King Publishing

Williams Almanac Video Games by J. F. Williams / IQ Guides

Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton, Christopher Swain, Steven Hoffman / CMPBooks

Expose : World's Finest in Digital Art Volumes 2,3,4,5,6,7 / Ballistic Publishing

Video Game Art by Nic Kelman / Assouline Publishing

Playstation Anthology by Mathieu Manent / Geeks-Line

100 Greatest Video Game Franchises by Mejia, Banks & Adams / Rowman & Littlefield Publishing

Exposé Annual “Greatest Digital Art in the Universe” (vol #s 1-4)

Oddworld: Abe's Origins by Stace Harmonn & John Robertson / Indie by Design

Spectrum Annual Best in Science Fiction & Fantasy (vol #s 5, 6, 7, 11,12,13,14, 22)

The Art of Game Worlds by Dave Morris & Leo Hartas / ILEX

Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation by Tom Sito / MIT Press

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Video Games by J.F. Williams / IQ Collectif

Digital Illusion by Clark Dodsworth Jr. / Addison Wesley

Game Project Management by Novac & Hight / Cengage Learning

Inspired 3D Character Setup by Ford & Lehman / Prima Tech

The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects by Isaac V. Kerlow / Wiley

Chesley Awards for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Art by Grant, Humphrey & Scoville / AAPPL


Lanning has Written the Forwards to the Following Books:

The Art of Massive Black / Ballistic Publishing

The Art of Oddworld Inhabitants / Ballistic Publishing

Quantumscapes: The Art of Stephan Martiniere / Design Studio Press

Derelict Planet : The Art of Pascal Blanche

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (re: The Art of Andrew Jones) / Flesk Publications

ColecoVision : The Official Book / Antoine Clerc-Renaud & Jean-Francios Dupui

Notable Interviews and Documentaries

Lanning speaks to ArsTechnica about mind control and many other things.

In this ArsTechnica interview, the team explores the inception of the Oddworld IP and Lanning's ambition within the medium. They touch on various subjects that are integral to Oddworld's ethos, including emotional attachment to characters, high production values, problem solving and humor.

The full length ArsTechnica conversation runs close to three hours long.

There was so much interesting material that came from the above interview with ArsTechnica that they posted the much longer conversation, at almost three hours long.

A Neural Scientist interviews Lanning about his creative process.

Next is a fascinating discussion about how Lanning's childhood and inquisitive mind led to his love of the natural world and our relationship with it. Before any formal training, Lanning was already forming the problem solving skills that he intrinsically links with his approach to creativity.

Lanning chats to Shuhei Yoshida President of Sony Interactive Entertainment

Here, Shuhei Yoshida and Lorne discuss 20 years of PlayStation, 1st party and 3rd party game development and how the barriers between indie and AAA are dissolving.

Lanning at DICE 2013 with his Properties for the Apocalypse talk.

Referencing Orwell, Disney, Henson and Lucas, Lanning discusses how valuable IP and their fandoms are often exploited. In this talk, Lanning suggests that the exploitation, and the acceleration of the harm it does our world, can be reflected back by creators to create meaningful stories that can inspire hope.