AusGamers id Software's Tim Willits Video Interview and Transcript
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:37pm 10/08/11 | Comments
AusGamers chats with id Software's Tim Willits about 20 years of id and their next release, RAGE. Read on or watch for what he has to say...
Watch the full video interview with Tim embedded above, or click here to check it out in HD
AusGamers: Hi guys, welcome back to AusGamers. You’re here with Stephen Farrelly and we are out at QuakeCon -- for the second year in a row -- and it’s awesome. We had a big party last night; 20 years for you guys; 15 years for QuakeCon. I’m here with Tim Willits; you all know who he is; we don’t need to do any big introductions.
Tim Willits: 20 years yes. I’ve been with the company 17 years, so I haven’t been around for the whole time, but John Carmack definitely has and we have a lot of employees that have been with us for a long time. And I think that’s what’s key to id Software games, is that spirit, that core group of guys that have been together for so long.
When you’re in RAGE and you’re hunting ghost-bandits or something and you’re walking around with that shotgun in your hand, that is a true id Software game and that spirit comes from all the way back 20 years ago and hopefully it will go for another 20 years or so. [laughs]
AusGamers: It’s 17 years for you though and, what... eight years before you guys had actually worked on a new IP or anything else. What’s that like? Working there that long, what’s the process for you guys? Were you just sitting there, biting your nails hoping that you would come up with something new?
Tim: Well the great thing about id is that we have lots of IPs. You know, Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein. So we’re always busy with things. We worked on Quake 4, we did some Q.E.T., Quake Live, QuakeCon every year, so historically we’ve all been pretty busy. We were a much smaller group in the past, we’ve grown in size, but we’re just as... we have one team that’s wrapping up RAGE; we have one team starting on the next Doom game -- which is very exciting.
So it takes us a long time to make games, but we feel that it’s time well-spent. We develop technology, we develop the game, we support our older IPs, it’s really a great company.
AusGamers: The development landscape has changed so much since you guys were basically the kings. And I’m not saying that you aren’t still, but to a degree, there’s a lot of people that have come along and borrowed a lot from the id history and borrowed a lot from id technology.
For you guys, is it an internal philosophy to kind of reclaim that mountain at some point, because when you’ve got a new IP and it’s being pushed really, really hard --- and rightly so -- and then you’ve got Doom 4 obviously. I was talking to Matt [Hooper - id Design Director] out at BFG about multiplayer and when is id going to come back and reclaim multiplayer as their own and he was candid “we’ve got guys back in the office working on that”, like, working on ways to really reclaim that spot.
Tim: It’s not really about claiming and kings and dominations and stuff, because we’ve been so influential to everybody. I mean heck, our engines power the games that have sold more than any other games in history. That brings a warm glow to my heart. And the fact that first-person shooters -- that genre is so popular, we have games coming out in this industry that sell 25 million plus copies. So that is good for everybody.
And to be a part of that, to be instrumental in setting that ship sailing is really exciting for us. For us, we just want to make great games that people enjoy; we want to experiment with new things; we want to make new technology. That’s who we are and if that makes us the top of the mountain, side of the mountain, king of the hill, in the end it doesn’t really matter.
AusGamers: Now I want to get back to the game really quickly. You guys are releasing mod tools for the PC community, but you’re not supporting dedicated servers. So we want to know how that is going to be delivered to the players and how they’re doing to share their modded game?
Tim: So to answer both those questions, why do we not have dedicated servers for the PC? Well because the technology is true cross-platform, we wanted to set up the infrastructure, the networking back-end to be very similar across all of the platforms. It just makes everything much easier for us.
The mod tools will only be available for the PC version -- make sure you have a 64 bit operating system. And what’s neat about RAGE is that we have this kind of layering technology for all the levels and areas of the game. So you may not see someone make an entirely new map in RAGE, but you’ll probably see someone take Wellspring and The Wasteland and then change up some of the levels around there and build some other things and change some NPCs and stuff.
So you may see more sort of campaign-style DLCs than you would see classic “I made a new map”. Because the technology learning-curve for RAGE -- just like our past games -- has definitely increased. So it’ll be more challenging, but it’ll be very rewarding.
AusGamers: But what is the delivery system for that, for the modders. How do they get their...
Tim: I get what you’re saying. They would just download it. Hopefully we’ll have some websites dedicated to RAGE where people will be able to go and find mods for the game.
AusGamers: So it’s kind of I guess... because John [Carmack] talked about this yesterday in his keynote. That the mod community and social networking kind of do go hand in hand, but nobody’s really put those two together. Is it safe to say that that’s sort of the direction that you’re going. As to hopefully just create a buzz around the mod community and the mods being made and hopefully just being shared that way?
Tim: Yes. I mean historically for us, all the way back in the beginning. I mean heck, I got my job at id because I made Doom levels. So of all people, I think modding is very important. We’ve always given people the tools and let them do their thing. Hopefully -- as John said -- there’ll be a community that grows organically; that grows true grassroots. I mean look at QuakeCon.
That’s really what our philosophy is. Because if you force a system on to people -- you say “this is where you have to go; what you have to do” -- then it becomes just “id’s mod community”. But if the mod community grows organically, it’s a much richer experience.
AusGamers: In terms of the dedicated server thing -- and obviously part of that reason is the learning curve with the new technology -- John also mentioned that they are coming back. Is it possible that we will see them back in the lifespan of RAGE as a single release? Or is it more “no, we’re going to use that for the next big one”.
Tim: Oh, talking about dedicated servers? John was probably referring to something more down the road. With RAGE the technology is set; it’s solid. The multiplayer experience, I think is great. I can’t speak for John, but he was probably talking about the future.
AusGamers: Well let’s go back to the game then. Now I did have one gripe that I'll bring up with you. There’s an early mission in the game, where if you do the mission then you’ll get a shotgun. But the bandits I was killing were dropping shotguns, but I couldn’t pick them up.
Tim: Yes. So we had an internal debate. What we wanted to do was we wanted to drive the economy; drive mission rewards. So our kind of paradigm was that, when you kill a guy, he’ll drop his weapon because it looks more realistic and then that will actually fade away, but he will have ammo on him. So you still have to loot him.
For a while we had it where you actually had to go find the weapon, then you had to loot the weapon, then find him and loot him, and it was a bit cumbersome. So we thought, let’s simplify this; let’s make it more straight-forward. That drops because it looks better, you get feedback when you shoot somebody [and] then you and loot him and he’ll have the ammo for that on him, but you have to buy or get weapons as rewards.
AusGamers: That makes sense.
As a technical question, why are the bodies vanishing? Why is there no persistent death thing?
Tim: For a while we had all the bodies stay around and then the problem was, you didn’t know who you looted and who you didn’t loot. So we came up with a system in RAGE that as soon as you loot a body and you go off somewhere, it will disappear. If the body has no loot on it and you leave it alone for a few minutes, then it’ll disappear.
Also, we have some areas where you just get bodies and bodies and bodies and bodies and frankly, you can only do so much. So we thought “let’s get the loot system associated with the body” so you know who you looted. You know when you come back and “oh, okay” and you loot that guy. Then we can also fix a tech issue, so we don’t just have guys piling up everywhere. So it’s kind of a combination between knowing who to loot and making sure everything runs really fast.
AusGamers: That makes sense as well.
You guys have talked a lot about the iterative process.and how there’s a lot of stuff being tested and a lot of stuff you tried, but it just didn’t work. Is there anything that you’ve pulled from that game that you really didn’t want to pull? Something that you were attached to?
Tim: No. There were a number of things we tried. For instance, cover. We had a whole interactive cover-system, where you go to cover; you hit a button; you can move in and out. That felt a little clumsy. So then we went to an automatic cover-system. Where you approach things and you automatically go into cover. But that really slowed down the combat and made it a different first person experience. So we took that out.
AusGamers: Plus, you’ve got such aggressive AI as well.
Tim: Yeah exactly. You’d be doing this, you know, and the guys would come up and hit you in the head. Then also, we had this really cool animation of climbing into the buggy and that was neat for maybe the first three or four times and then it was like “oh my lord, just get me in the buggy!”.
So everything that we changed or iterated on has really made the game better. More faster and more fluid. Because people want to do things immediately. They don’t want to wait for some silly animation and that’s really kind of the spirit behind RAGE.
AusGamers: Now there’s going to be some co-op. Have you guys looked at... I guess Steam is available on the PlayStation 3 now for cross-platform play. Did you guys look at that at all?
Tim: No. For us we wanted to stick to each platform, each system. If you’re playing on a controller and another guy’s playing keyboard and mouse; even though it’s co-op things can get a bit unfair -- for lack of a better word. For us, we thought “let’s stick with PSN, Xbox Live and Steam for PC”. It just makes the landscape really straight-forward for us.
AusGamers: Well, we’ll leave it there. Congratulations on 20 years, 17 for you, 15 years of QuakeCon. It’s fantastic.
Tim: Great, thank you.