Back in 1997, a game came out that would define a generation. GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 was perhaps the most beloved game of the platform, and certainly the most entertaining multiplayer game available before the rise of the internet.
There were many things that made GoldenEye such an iconic game, but the multiplayer aspect is what most people remember. Sitting around a TV with up to four friends mindlessly shooting away for hours was a novel concept back then. And doing so on a controller with just a single analog stick meant that GoldenEye had to adopt some novel solutions to the player’s inability to aim properly.
Auto-aiming wasn’t exactly new— one could argue that the original Doom included a form of auto-aim in order to hit demons that were even slightly above or below the player character. But GoldenEye did things differently: rather than simply have the bullets magically come out of a gun in the correct trajectory to hit their target, characters in GoldenEye would automatically aim the weapon at the opposing player so that bullets from the gun seemed to follow a realistic path.
This feature meant that GoldenEye single-handedly changed the way a player “feels” in a first-person shooter. However, this system only worked if the characters were all roughly the same height.
Enter Oddjob. Added as an unlockable character from the Bond film Goldfinger, Oddjob was extremely short; almost half the size of every other playable character. Which was weird, since Oddjob was only slightly shorter than average in the movie and has led to debate as to whether or not the developers were thinking of Nick Nack from The Man With The Golden Gun.
In any case, it was quickly discovered that Oddjob broke GoldenEye’s auto-aim feature. Instead of aiming at Oddjob’s center of mass, the player's gun would aim for a point above Oddjob’s head and completely miss. This would necessitate the player using manual controls to target Oddjob, which was a cumbersome and time-consuming process. This often meant that the Oddjob player had more than enough time to dispatch the non-Oddjob player.
You could make the argument that Oddjob’s inclusion represents a method for the developers to provide some sort of handicap and give unskilled players a chance, but a handicap function already existed in the game options. As a result of his ability to short-out the auto-aim feature, Oddjob was often unofficially banned from playgroups.
That said, a long-standing debate existed in favor of Oddjob. After all, if the designers felt that Oddjob was so unfair as to break the game, then why did they include him as a character in the first place? This debate would go on for decades, long after GoldenEye had ceased being relevant except as a piece of gaming nostalgia.
But in 2018, that debate was put to rest. In an interview with Mel Magazine, a pair of former Rare employees finally put to rest the old argument and confirmed that playing as Oddjob was indeed cheating.
“We all thought it was kind of cheating when we were play-testing with Oddjob, but it was too much fun to take out and there was no impetus from any of us to change it," admitted Karl Hilton, lead environmental artist on GoldenEye. "It’s clearly become part of the culture and folklore of the game — I noticed playing GoldenEye as Oddjob was mentioned in Ready Player One, so ultimately, I think it’s fine.”
“It’s definitely cheating to play as Oddjob," added Mark Edmonds, lead gameplay and engine programmer. "But that can just add to the fun when you’re all sitting there next to each other and berating/poking/hitting the person who chooses him. Personally I like to pick Jaws and then beat the person with Oddjob just to show them! We could have put something in to stop this blatant cheating, but why not just let players decide on their own rules?”
So yes, using Oddjob was cheap. Even Rare’s own employees admit that using Oddjob was cheating and we can finally move on to more constructive debates, like whether or not PC is better than console.