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QuakeCon 2007: John Carmack Talks Rage, id Tech 5 And More

GI: Do you play [Wii] a lot?

Carmack: Not a lot. I’ve got a Wii. My almost three-year-old boy, I got that out so we could wave things around there. I play a little bit but I don’t play a huge amount of video games in general. No time.

GI: So why did you choose a Mac show to first debut id Tech 5 for the first time, and then show it all off at QuakeCon. I know you showed it to a few people at E3, but not the masses.

Carmack: The Mac thing was just this weird happenstance. Macs have been sort of infiltrating our office. They’ve been sprouting up a lot and people are getting Macbooks and they’re generally pretty well regarded. Robert Duffy who’s the programming lead has four Mac’s or something. He was like, “I’m going to port Rage over to the Mac.” Okay, that’s a good thing. We learn something every time we move over to a new platform. It was always a good idea there. As it was going over we had a meeting with Apple and they said, “What about doing some of this for Steve’s keynote.” I’ve had ups and downs with the whole relationship with Apple and Steve, but we thought it was probably a decent thing to do because it was going to be the first crunch point for the team. It’s a good team building exercise. The time where you get everyone there working at 2am trying to get things done. In the large scheme Mac Worldwide Developers Conference isn’t the hugely important thing to do. It was a good point to see what we could do, because we knew at that time we were already aiming to be showing at E3. So then we were like, “Can we limit features a bit and show something a month before E3?” We figured it was a reasonable thing to do and in hindsight it was a worthwhile technology path to take.

The E3 stuff was all developer only. We still hadn’t announced Rage. I think we were actually waiting to see if we were trademark cleared at E3. Trademarking game names is a far bigger deal than most people give it credit. It’s amazingly frustrating. You can have a page of names and then have them come back and say none of those are okay.

The old story was that Quake II which has nothing to do with Quake I was going to be a completely different name, but we got fed up with getting the names rejected so we said, “Dammit, it’s Quake II. We own that trademark.”

GI: What can you say about Rage? When everyone saw the shakey-cam footage people were wondering if you were making a racing game….

Carmack: It’s about 50/50 racing and first person action. It’s interesting. If we go back post Doom 3, we started making a completely different game. It’s internal name was The Darkness, which it’s obvious that someone else has taken since then (laughs) but it was going to be another spooky dark survival horror thing set on an island. We spent a lot of time going on that. But we reached this point where, “Do we really need to do another dark, spooky game?” id always gets slammed for the game is always too dark. Maybe we should do another game that’s a little brighter. We can branch out a bit more. Maybe it would be more fun to run over people with pick up trucks and ATVs. We rebooted our entire development project. We were reasonably far into production on The Darkness title and we just said we wanted to go in a completely different direction. We wound up with this post-apocalyptic Road Warrior type thing.

I think there’s going to be some neat stuff in it. We’ve got the whole outdoor wasteland – big areas, going between lots of different areas. We’re doing some of the sandbox play there. I like racing games. Mario Kart is the last game I played reasonably. That type of thing is fun.

Then you’ve got the run and gun internal shooter stuff, id’s always done well, and we’re going to do a good job on that. Then you have the sort of RPG-ish elements, pimping out your ride, getting money to buy accessories and building it up. It is a different style of game which is risky especially when you’re talking a $20 million budget, and the safe this for us to do would be to run right into Doom 4. But we made the conscious decision that we want to broaden id a little bit. We’ve got Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. We’re trying to bring Orcs and Elves up from the low end, and we’re going to try to bring Rage in from the high end to broaden our whole portfolio here. There’s no doubt it’s a gamble. It’s a big deal. There’s an element of stress there that we don’t have all of the advantages that we previously had going into a title, there. But we think it’s going to be pretty cool.

There will be a Doom 4, we don’t have it scheduled or a team assigned to it, but there will be a Doom 4. There’s going to be a Quake Arena sequel. There’s a Wolfenstein thing in production. We’re following along with all those. This game doesn’t have to be Doom. It’s going to be something different.

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