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id Software's Kevin Cloud Talks Quake Wars, id Tech 5

by Aaron Linde, Apr 17, 2008 5:00pm PDT

Fresh off of a hands-on demonstration of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars on the Xbox 360, I had the opportunity to sit down with id Software's Kevin Cloud, executive producer of the upcoming shooter.

During our time together, the developer spoke about the simultaneous development of Quake Wars on consoles and PCs, creating an all-in-one objective-oriented experience, and more.

Shack: Recent years have seen the release of several team-oriented first-person shooters on consoles. What sets Quake Wars apart from the competition?

Kevin Cloud: Keep in mind that in terms of this type of gameplay, the origins of it is Return to Castle Wolfenstein's multiplayer, which Nerve and I worked together on, and that introduced the character class system and the objective-based system. That has evolved through Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, which was played by millions of people and still has a good following, and has been refined for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

The classes have a real meaningful role to play in the game--they're not just equipment load-outs. When you're playing a medic, you're definitely doing the job of a medic. There are things for players to explore and learn about a class in terms of feeling the class out, but once they know them it really makes a difference in how they approach the game. That doesn't really exist in a lot of the other games where, really, the only difference is in what weapon you're carrying.

The objective-based gameplay is very unique. The idea of sort of focusing the team on a common objective and having everybody sort of work together to accomplish that creates this sort of intense combat--we're not spreading people across the battlefield--and the way the gameplay progresses as you accomplish that objective and move forward to the next. This is not like a point system type of game, it really creates this intensity in which the accomplishment creates this sort of hero moment that you don't have in other games.

For this type of gameplay, going all the way back to Wolfenstein multiplayer, the idea of getting people to work together as a team has been important for us. We've created a lot of systems to sort of direct people to do that. One of them is the proficiency system in the campaign. Players that are basically going around and doing the class the way their team needs it, like a medic reviving people or a soldier blowing up stuff, they're gaining XP. And as they gain XP, they're able to gain rewards for themselves.

It gets people to work together, because as an engineer--you want him to repair, and he wants to repair because he'll get XP for it. When the players are playing it, there's a lot more sort of teamplay involved--you really get a sense of that that you may not get in other games where you just have different character classes.

Turn the page for more on Quake Wars' design philosophy, downloadable content plans, and an update on the id Tech 5 graphic engine.

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Shack: Was there any consideration given to tailoring the game to console audiences and working in more traditional gametypes, like straight CTF, for example? What was the reasoning behind the deliberate choice towards objective-based gameplay?

Kevin Cloud: A couple of things. In terms of the development, the consoles have been in development for about two years. Nerve did work on the PC development as well, with Splash Damage as the primary developer. Nerve worked on several of the maps and worked out some of the bot scripting, model work and things like that. As far as the decision-makings on what the game would be like and how it would play on all the platforms, those decisions were made back then when we were doing simultaneous development.

As far as the decision on different game modes, my thinking on that is what people want when they're going online is to find a lot of different people playing the games that they want to play. And so the more different variations you create in these game modes, the less likely it is that the people on the same game are going to find a game mode in common. Also, when you look at Enemy Territory, each of the objectives begin to play like different game modes.

If you play Island, the last objective plays like Capture the Flag. For a King of the Hill style mode, a hack objective plays very much that way, where a covert ops player has to go and control a territory for a certain period of time. The MCP is sort of like an escort mission. We accommodated that through the structure of these different objectives. It was about not wanting to create these big branches of game modes that make it less likely to find a game that you want to play, but also because those modes are integrated into the different objectives.

Shack: Are there any plans for downloadable content packs for Quake Wars?

Kevin Cloud: Like on the PC, Splash Damage is still providing updates to the game--they're actually going to release a patch with support for the tournament community. As far as the plans for consoles, it really depends, to be honest, on the success on the console. I have a lot of hopes for the success of it--I hope it's well reviewed.

I think the console audience is starting to play more and more multiplayer games, and get used to this kind of gameplay. Players tend to migrate a little bit sooner than PC players to different games... If we get a following there, then definitely, I'd like to support it. But in terms of any definitive plans that Activision has agreed to, it's sort of a wait-and-see.

Shack: Can you give us an update on id Tech 5's development?

Kevin Cloud: Things are moving along great. We're currently preparing it for licensors to take a look at it, and it's in a good position. The SDKs have to be put together obviously can't just put together the code and have them figure it out. There's work done on that level.

I don't want to step outside of my range and discuss things that some people are better suited to answer, but right now with the type of technology solution we've developed for id Tech 5--for one thing, it's a great cross-platform solution because texture streaming solutions just allows you to create one set of content.

You don't even have to worry about how it's going to look on PS3 or 360. Right now we've got it running cross-platform running 60 hertz, and it looks really good. In terms of what artists are available to achieve--it's something you have to see for yourself. I can say this but you still won't get it until you see it.

Because of the universal texturing everything in the world can be uniquely textured, and it's a look you just can't get in any other game. Once you see it you go "shit, I have not seen that anywhere else." We're really proud of what we've put together there.

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