BFG 2011: RAGE Video Interview and Transcript
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 02:33pm 22/04/11 | Comments
AusGamers caught up with id Software's Matt Hooper to talk RAGE, their evolution to include console development in their work and when we might see a return to their "King of Multiplayer" roots. Read on for the full interview...
AusGamers: Hey guys welcome back to AusGamers, you’re here with Stephen Farrelly and I’m here with Matt Hooper who works out at id Software; who has been working very hard on RAGE, which is a game that you could say has been coming for 14 years now I guess.
I got a bit of hands-on with the game today; it feels fantastic. Let’s start there. How long did you guys work on getting that feel? I mean I know you guys basically invented the first-person shooter, obviously, but playing it on console today - and I can’t wait to get my hands on it on PC - it just felt... it’s just a really solid feel...
Matt Hooper: You know it’s one of the thing we work really hard on and it’s a subtle thing to because... it’s different; we’re doing what we’ve always done, but bringing it to the consoles for the first time and John Carmack, right when he first started making idTech 5, he knew RAGE and he wanted it to be a 60hz game and he wanted it to be 60hz - and we all did - because of the responsiveness; we want that control and that feel. There’s something unique about an id shooter that we do and it doesn’t mean that every game should necessarily do that, but it’s something we’re really proud of - it’s that responsiveness.
AG: What’s really interesting is that you guys haven’t really... I guess you haven’t broken the mold, there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s carried over successfully from other FPS games on console, but there’s still a little bit of a touch of a different way to do things, like, holeding down the RB-Button to bring up both your ammo selection and weapon selection and then using both analogue sticks to do that; you can do that so quickly, and I think that that’s just such a PC way to think about the console.
Matt: Yeah in a way it was a conscious decision too. Once we started introducing all these different elements, like the ability to change your ammo type, we didn’t want you to have to pause the game and go into an inventory screen and cycle through all of these different screens and get your ammo, and we didn’t want you to just be limited to a couple of weapons with specific ammo types. We wanted [it] to be more like we’ve done in the past, and we wanted to bring that accessibility; on the keyboard you have a bunch of number keys and you can assign them to whatever you want. On the console you’re limited in a way, so we really iterated a lot on how we wanted to do that and we landed on this: Okay, here’s your weapon and ammo switch, you hit the button and you quickly move the analogue sticks and it’s always right there, at your finger-tips. So we limit it because we don’t have a million different weapons, but you put your shotgun at this location and you know it, so you can, literally, in one-second, switch to the shotgun and whatever ammo-type you want - you just hit it. And you’ve kind of evolved with the game that way.
AG: Now obviously you guys have a solid history in the PC market, what hurdles did you have coming to the console space and what have you learnt, I guess, from modern-day design - because consoles now tend to lead the way a little bit - by default - because they’re so successful... so yeah, what have you guys learnt and what have you brought to the fray?
Matt: You know it really wasn’t as difficult as you might think. I mean there were definitely a lot of hurdles we had to learn as a studio, but in reality the ability for a console player to adapt to what we do in a shooter; they’ve evolved a long way. We started out with Doom and Quake and people couldn’t even handle movement in a true 3D space, so we had to wait until gamers evolved. And now gamers are at a point where they’re playing fast-paced shooters; they’re okay with these extra buttons - that couldn’t happen 10 years ago.
So really gamers have caught up and they’ve allowed us to bring what we do to the consoles, and we did spend a lot of time making sure we could do what we do and make, like what we’re talking about with the weapons switch and quickly selecting things - all of that were things we had to iterate through and get right. But gamers have caught up now on consoles.
AG: When you guys play the multiplayer in the office, do you play PC or console?
Matt: We try both. We kind of force people to try different things, but we play both of them - we have to. Because they are so fundamentally different - especially the control-scheme; there’s little balancing nuances, and those types of things will make their way to the different platforms - we try to take advantage of what a PC has to offer, or take advantage of what a particular console controller has to offer, and make sure it’s balanced for each.
AG: Now in the hands-on I got, I found that a lot of what you were offering in the demo stuff was quite corridor-ish, and there were a few arena areas, but does the game change much from that sort of progression? Or are you sort of just going corridor, arena, corridor, arena? Or, when you’re playing the game as a whole with the whole world at your finger-tips is it completely different?
Matt: So you have this giant wasteland and you’re driving around and we entice the player; we don’t hide the fact that the entrance to Bash TV or the entrance to the Shrouded Clans base... you’ll see it and recognise it as “oh, I can go in there”, and then with the shooter environments, we stay true to our roots, I mean it is a crafted experience, it is somewhat linear; there’re different ways to go, but it’s a lot like what we’ve done in the past - it’s not gonna be a wide-open wasteland where you fight one bad-guy and he’s hiding near a bush, it’s really all about what happens around this corner and what story are we trying to tell and what are they saying? And do I have a pre-combat opportunity? There’s a lot of deliberate, crafted moment-to-moment... you know, you will go through a corridor and then you open up and a giant tentacle mutant comes at you and you have to battle him before the next thing opens up.
And that’s on purpose, it’s what we like and it’s the kind of games we’ve always made.
AG: With the balance of the weapons; how did you guys iterate that? Like, did you start with 50-odd weapons and then just go through and cull them down to the balance that you have now?
Matt: Well we always look for opportunities, be it weapons, bad-guys; and throughout the development - we start with this loose frame-work - we just start iterating through and look for “wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?” or “why don’t we try that?” - we’ll try it, leave it in if it’s good, take it out if it’s bad - we don’t want to overwhelm the player with too many decisions; we want every element that we add to the game to be meaningful [and] to have its own place.
but we do end up teaching you how to use a wide array of engineering items and off-hand weapons and just the standard weapons and ammo types. We try to teach you how to use it and then let you decide where to use it from there. We don’t try to kill ourselves by tweaking everything we you only get nine of these bullets and that’s it because we want you to use this other gun - we try to let you make the choice and there’s enough fundamental game mechanics where it’s still going to be a challenge, but you get to kind of define how you’re going to play through these different areas.
AG: Now, getting back to the PC, obviously it’s going to look that little bit better on the PC; are you guys supporting anything like DX11?
Matt: Right now there’s no plans to directly support any of the features on there. We’re pretty proud of the way the game will look on the PC, and of course you’ll get higher resolution, and you’ll get more anti-aliasing and we think people will be happy with that. That doesn’t mean down the track we won’t offer some kind of specific support, you know, John Carmack has always been interested in pushing the envelope on every side, but right now it’s not one of our main focuses, it’s just to deliver the best game we can and we want it to look good on every platform.
AG: There are a lot of great games here at the BFG, are you guys a): Proud that Bethesda adopted that name for the event, and b): Aside from your game, obviously, what game here are you most looking forward to playing?
Matt: I am lucky, and Zenimax has such a great family of developers, it’s awesome, right. So I’ve gotten the chance to see Skyrim quite a few times, and I just loved Oblivion and Morrowind before that; I lived with those games forever, so that’s the one I’m most excited about - I think a lot of people are, but I’m just so happy with what they’ve done ; just from a visual stand-point it looks amazing, and then from the gameplay side I know they’re going to get that right, so just as a gamer, I can’t wait to play that.
AG: Now you probably can’t even say anything, but it’s been many years since you came out with a brand-new IP, so what’s next after RAGE? You guys are basically on the home-stretch...
Matt: Well you know as a studio, we have a lot of things going on right. There’s gonna be a next Doom, we still have the Quake franchise that we care a lot about and Wolfenstein, and now we have RAGE. There’s only so many things you can do [and] we’re lucky to be at a point where we have these great franchises and we can reinvigorate them; add element to them, we can kind of redefine what they are but still know that there’s a fanbase that cares about those franchises.
So we’ll keep pushing on all of those, you know RAGE will have a future; Quake, Doom, Wolf - all of those games will move forward.
AG: I was actually going to say, just to top all of that off, will we see a return to multiplayer roots for you guys? I mean Quake kind of changed that landscape forever, and I know a lot of guys would like to see you step back into that arena - no pun intended...
Matt: I can guarantee it. I can’t give details on that, but we do have a significant amount of people who are just concetrating on making multiplayer. You know, we want to be at the top on that, so for RAGE what we were looking for is just this really additive experience - we saw it as an opportunity to do the vehicle rally modes and add the co-op in... but you can imagine our other franchises - we need to have the very top multiplayer component and we have guys that are good at that and who are working very hard at that right now.
AG: Well we’ll leave it there - that’s a very tantalising end. You heard it here first guys, right here on AusGamers out at BFG. Thanks Matt, the game looks fantastic. Cheers.