Oddworld: Monster Behavior

I seem to recall that Abe’s Oddysee tried to hype up the sophistication of its NPC behavior, and how the monsters had varying emotional states. It’s possible that I’m confusing this with the sequel, Abe’s Exoddus, which had varying emotional states for the rescuable Mudokons, and mechanisms for managing them, soothing the angry and cheering the sad. But the Slig guards in the first game (and its remake) definitely do have multiple states: a regular patrolling mode, an alert state when they’ve heard something but haven’t seen you yet, an agitated state when they’ve seen you and lost you. I have a very clear memory from my original play-through of a Slig guard who kept spotting me and losing me, getting more and more agitated until he beat a captive Mudokon to death. It’s nothing groundbreaking, really — just the sort of state machine you expect from a stealth game. So I wouldn’t brag about on the box, but that’s probably why I’m not in marketing.

Apart from the Sligs, there are three other sorts of monsters. The simplest of these are the Slogs, which are basically just alien attack dogs that charge and leap at you, heedless of obstacles and dangers. The Sligs keep them around in kennels that open on some sort of trigger and release multiple slogs at a time, at which point you need to already have some sort of defense, such as a ledge you can jump up onto. When you think about it, it’s a little weird that Abe is the only creature in the whole game capable of climbing up onto higher platforms. There are lots of creatures on platforms already, but how did they get there?

The other two creature types are the Scrabs and the Paramites, monsters revered as sacred by the Mudokons and valued as meat by their captors. Scrabs are clattering carapaced creatures with a crab’s pincer for a face. They’re described as territorial, meaning that they’ll chase after you if you’re within their territory and leave you alone otherwise. But their territory usually extends to the entire area they can traverse anyway, so their behavior isn’t much different from that of Slogs. There’s one major difference: Slogs attack in packs, but if a Scrab encounters another Scrab, they’ll ignore you for as long as it takes to fight each other to the death. This is presented as one of the basic rules of Scrabs in the instructions in the Scrab temple, so I was a little surprised at how little it comes into play. I think I saw exactly one Scrabfight.

The scuttling tentacled web-weaving Paramites are, to my mind, the most interesting of the creatures. They follow you around, but not too close. They turn aggressive when you get a bunch of them together, but they avoid confrontation when they’re alone. They will, however, kill you if you corner them. Even if that’s not your intention. So a typical Paramite encounter leaves me saying “I don’t want trouble, you don’t want trouble, but I need to be over where you are, and that means I need you on the other side of me.” This is something you can make puzzles from.

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