Back at QuakeCon 2010, I caught up with Rage lead designer Matt Hooper after the demonstration of the game running at 60 frames-per-second on all three platforms.
Reading some of your comments about being worried that the game will be "console-ized" or that the PC version wouldn't be its own game, I set out to get answers from id Software.
With the PC, you always get some built-in advantages-- more anti-aliasing and maybe a higher resolution. We're going to put in the time to make sure the control scheme on the keyboard really works.
They are the same games, but if there's something that needs to be fundamentally different [between the PC and console versions]--we talked a lot about quick-use items and it's difficult to get that right on the console, but we need to get it right on the PC. There may be some fine-tune balancing that we do on the different platforms.
When you're making a game where the fundamental interaction with the AI matters--his health, where you hit him, headshots--and you have a mouse versus a controller, there's going to be some tuning.
There's going to be a PC game made and it's going to be called Rage and we want it to be just right.
A lot of fuss was made over the UI in the PC version of Gearbox's Borderlands being essentially the same as the console version's at launch. id Software is definitely paying attention to this.
"Our goal is to really look at it separately. Yes, we go through all this trouble to have the platform parity, but we look at the PC as its own thing and so we don't hold back," explains Hooper. "The UI is a big part of it. It's not the same. There will be some fundamental differences [when using a mouse and keyboard versus a controller], especially with UI elements."
nope What about PC gamers that feel like the console versions look too good? After all, a high-end gaming rig can be thousands of dollars more expensive than a PS3 or Xbox 360!
"It is a weird argument. Almost like they feel a little, not left out, but we've always done PC first and left that console port to another company. In the end, if you play on a PC and buy the game it should be one of the best looking and most fun games. We're just going to concentrate on doing that and it should just work out."
What about going the other way? Consoles aren't as open as the PC and have different processes for things like DLC, patches, and new content. I asked Matt if there were going to be things that wouldn't be possible on the consoles, but would be good to go for the PC SKU.
"No, with the modern consoles that are linked online, you have a lot of the advantages that used to be only on the PC. You do have space to download, especially because the people that play our games tend to have hard drives--they aren't playing the [Xbox 360] Arcade systems. We have the same advantages. There's nothing specific that the consoles will have left out."
Rage's multiplayer has not been revealed and John Carmack's statements about dedicated servers during his keynote address have some people worried. Hooper wasn't ready to get into specifics about servers, multiplayer, or DRM, but promised that Rage will have "something right for the style of multiplayer we have" and he "thinks people will be pleased with the direction we're going," with regards to DRM. Future Bethesda titles like Fallout: New Vegas and Brink will be using Valve's Steamworks service.
Now that Rage has an official release date (9/13/11), it presents a new situation for id Software: knowing exactly when their game will come out with more than a year to go. The good news is that it looks like the game will hit that release date.
"We're really happy with where we are and that date is beyond where I think we need it anyway. So the game is going to be better and everyone can build around that date," says Hooper. "I think seeing the game run on the consoles at 60Hz and I think it looks really good. We're in a really solid place. Usually we're fighting all of these technical hurdles and not even worrying about the consoles. We're just in a good place. The tech has gotten to a place that makes us feel confident."