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RAGE Developer id Talks Post-Apocalyptic, Motion Controllers, ZeniMax Purchase and More

by Chris Faylor, May 06, 2010 7:00pm PDT

When id Software--the company that created DOOM and QUAKE--talks, you tend to listen.

After all, this is the company that helped pioneer and popularize the entire first-person shooter genre in the first place.

Now, the company is gearing up to unleash its first original property in quite some time with RAGE--a game that will also mark id's first release across PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 when it hits in 2011.

Of course, a new property brings with it many questions. Why make an all-new title instead of another entry in a proven franchise? Why the post-apocalyptic setting? What about those new-fangled motion controllers coming to consoles? And just what about id getting bought by ZeniMax in June 2009? How did that affect the game?

Fortunately, id Software creative director Tim Willits and senior producer Jason Kim were on hand while demonstrating the Xbox 360 edition of RAGE to provide some insight:

Doing Something Different

Tim Willits: After we completed the last DOOM, QUAKE IV, things like that, we looked at the technology and what [id technical director] John Carmack--every time I show up, people always like, "Oh, I thought John was going to be here"--when he was developing the id Tech 5, we looked at the power of that technology and what it allowed us to do. We also looked at, you know, how we've evolved as gamers and developers and how the industry has evolved as gamers and we immediately wanted to do something different, something that would change expectations of what an id Software game was. We know that, though, that at its core, the very essence, it had to be an awesome first-person shooter. We invented the genre, we do it great, we knew that everything that we had to do with RAGE had to revolve around this first-person core. So, with that, we looked at, you know, our other IP, we thought that "You know, let's do something new and sort of different let's do a story, let's do the universe, let's do a reboot on game design for us and really do something unique and special. And I feel that RAGE really is very unique and special for us and is a really unique game [compared to what's] out there.

The Reason Behind Post-Apocalyptic

Tim Willits: One of the reasons is that when John had created this technology, he actually downloaded NASA geographic data. We looked at that and, "Oh, we can make a game like this! Okay, it's gotta be big outdoors. Yeah, that's awesome. And then we'll have cars? Oh yeah, that's cool. We need to put guns in the cars! Well, that limits that."

We found that we wanted to have a setting that allows us to do this kind over-the-top sci-fi stuff that we like to do at id, but we wanted to have stuff that people could relate to: muscle cars and stuff. The post-apocalyptic setting just worked out really well for us, it allowed us to have a rich environment with the over-the-top gameplay.

On Cutscenes and RAGE's Opening

Tim Willits: Because we're id Software, cutscenes are very short because we want you to get people into the game. One of the neat things is, you do start out in the Ark, and I kinda want the player to be going "Oh, okay, this is an id game, I've played DOOM 3, I know what high-tech looks like" but when they open the door and it's like, "Wow, this is really different." So you spend a very short amount of time in an Ark. It's not like Fallout 3, where you learn [and grow up]. You wake up, you learn some things, push the door and out you go.

Project Natal and/or PlayStation Move Compatibility?

Jason Kim: For RAGE, we don't have any plans for doing anything with any of the motion controllers. My philosophy on that is, outside the scope of what we're talking about on RAGE, my general philosophy on the motion controllers is that I think it really takes a top-notch developer to take that technology, figure out how to actually work with a commercially viable game, and then really kind-of forge the path for other people. "Hey, this is the example of what is doable with these motion controllers."

PC Mod Support

Jason Kim: There isn't a definitive answer yet on that. In the past, we've had a lot of support for those types of creative people to be able to do that. It's not clear right now, for us. Nothing's changed on that [since QuakeCon 2009].

A Complete Ending, Like Star Wars

Tim Willits: When the game ends, it's has a complete ending. But, like Star Wars, there's always things that can go in different directions. We felt that new technology, new IP, let's build a universe that really allows us to do some very creative, fascinating things.

On ZeniMax Buying id Software

Tim Willits: I can tell you that, having the resources and upper management, they've really allowed us to do stuff with RAGE that frankly we may not have been able to in the past. I truly believe that, ultimately, RAGE has become a better game because of this new relationship that we have.

But Wait, There's (Maybe) More

Tim Willits: There's a number of things that the guys come up with, they're like, "Oh, I want to do this!" I'm like, "RAGE 2!" [laughter]