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id Software Wants To Shorten Dev Cycles

Posted August 10, 2011 by M.H. Williams

In the past, id Software has created a brand-new engine every time they’ve wanted to develop a new game.  id Tech 1 (Doom, Doom 2), id Tech 2 (Quake, Quake 2), id Tech 3 (Quake 3 Arena), id Tech 4 (Doom 3), and id Tech 5 (Rage) were all developed years apart and were very much of a creation of their respective times.  In an interview with VG247, id CEO Todd Hollenshead talked about the developer’s quest to find a way to shorten that cycle between games.

“We need to get to shorter cycles. And I think part of that is that we can’t be doing a revolutionary technology with every game we develop,” Hollenshead admitted. “So we have to be able to leverage the technology we make. We have to go to a bit more of an iterative technology approach – as opposed to ‘OK, now that this game is done, I’m going to throw out every line of code and start from line zero.’”

“We make these huge investments in development pipelines and institutional knowledge and all these things. We’ve just got to be able to leverage those better and get that time cycle down. I think it’s a completely doable thing, but I don’t think it just happens without putting some effort into it.”

Hollenshead is also glad about the prospect of extended console cycles, allowing developers to really dig deep into the system and provide real value.

“I think extended console cycles are actually good for everyone. I think they’re good for consumers and good for developers. As much as a new console will excite everyone about its technical gee-wizardry, your worst economic period is often the very first year of a new console,” he said. “Install bases aren’t there, you’re selling lower units of games, people are having to pay $600-$700 for a console as opposed to $200-$300. And the first games to come out are among the least technically compelling, because there’s just such a rush to get stuff out for launch. Those are the reasons in my mind.”

“So yeah, it has helped us. But it’s not just something that helps us. I think it’s something that helps [everyone].”

And while most believe the Wii proved that graphics don’t matter, graphical fidelity will always be important to id Software.

“Coming from id – and this is Carmack’s quote – graphics will always matter. And I agree with that 100 percent. I think that there’s a point where you get diminishing returns, obviously. You approach reality until the point that you get there. And then, once you get there – which, we never will – but the curve gets so close that the differences are imperceptible to most consumers,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near there yet. We’re still making graphical trade-offs and working within system constraints. If you gave us twice the horsepower, I guarantee we’d soak up every single bit of it.”

“I mean, in Rage, we decided to run it at 60 hertz and put all our elbow grease behind that when most of our competition is running at 30 hertz. And I think it’s a difference-maker.”

Rage is scheduled for release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on October 4, 2011.

M.H. Williams has been writing in some form or another for ten years and has been a hardcore gamer since the NES first graced American shores.  You can catch him on Twitter as @AutomaticZen, Google+ as himself, or on his personal Facebook page.

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