Interview with id Software’s creative director

With its new first-person-shooter, Rage, due out in less than a month, Techday was fortunate to secure an interview with Tim Willits, creative director of the company responsible for Quake, Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, id Software.

Techday:Tell us briefly about your role as creative director of Rage. What areas of game development does that get you involved in?

Tim Willits: So, as Creative Director, my role definitely changes as the course of development moves along. At the very beginning, my job was to basically come up with the game idea and work with the designers, figure out what direction we wanted to take Rage. Then I of course worked with the writer on stories and the plot points and the pacing of the game, and then worked with our design director on what missions would be fun, and how those missions fit in with the story and the setting and the characters. I even wrote dialogue for the game. Then, during production, that’s when I ensure that all the designers and the artists are all working together and moving in the same direction, which can sometimes be tricky, but that’s the bulk of the development. Then as we get to the end of the cycle, I work with the marketing groups to make sure we are getting out the right message and go on the press tours and the preview events. So as creative director my job definitely evolves and changes throughout the course of development.

TD: That’s cool, it must be quite satisfying to see the whole development process from start to finish.

TW: Yes, it’s a very long process, it’s like hiking up a mountain and when you finally get to the top and ship your game you can look out and admire the view when everything is done. But it’s not easy of course, sometimes you fall down a few times and you have to pick yourself back up and work towards shipping the game, but it’s always very exciting, I always feel very lucky to have such a fun job.

TD: For those gamers who have been living under a rock and haven’t heard about Rage yet, how would you sum up what Rage is all about?

TW: Well, Rage is a brand new game from id Software, we created the first person shooter with Wolfenstein then followed up with Doom and Quake, which were huge titles, so at its core it’s still a true id Software first person game. But it’s more than just a run and gun game, it’s more than just a classic corridor shooter. We have many elements which extend the gameplay experience. For instance, we have the whole vehicle racing and vehicle combat portion of the game, we have a deeper story with rich characters, we even have an inventory and economy system, so I like to call Rage the complete first person experience. It’s built on brand new technology so it looks amazing, it runs really fast, and it’s a true cross platform technology, so regardless, if you are playing on the PC, or 360, or PS3 you are playing the same game, which is very important to gamers. It’s just something new, it doesn’t follow the same cookie cutter formula that a lot of other companies are doing with their first person games, and because it’s made by us, everyone knows it’s got cool action and adventure in it.

TD: It sounds really exciting, what have been the biggest challenges you have faced in creating Rage so far?

TW: Well the trickiest thing for us was the driving-racing-combat aspect of the game. After working through that I have much more respect for the guys that make racing games. It’s not easy to integrate that entire system into a classic first person shooter, but I feel that we have made the controls and driveability of the vehicles very approachable. They are very easy to get into and drive around and have fun. Apart from that, incorporating the other elements of the game together, we have mini-games you can play in town, some very different missions like a post apocalyptic TV game show, and it’s all tying together in a very unique and stylised way that gives it its own flavour and personality, even though the game is constructed from all these multiple parts.

TD: It sounds like there are a lot of cool elements in Rage, are there parts you hope gamers will enjoy the most and really engage with?

TW: Yes, the player choice for us has been very important, and the game has a narrative, we like to call it open but directed. But along the path, along that story, there are a number of ways that you can experience the gameplay. We have whole arsenals of cool weapons, we have ammo for those weapons, we have engineering items, and based on the types of ways that you like to play, maybe you’re an aggressive player that likes to use the shotgun and grenades a lot, or you’re a defensive player and you want to spend some time engineering RC bomb cars or turrets, and you can play the game that way. And our AI is very robust, it’s very aware of all the things that you have, and in Rage, every weapon you pick up and every ammo type you make, you get to carry it with you, so it’s not like games where you have to drop a weapon to pick up a weapon and it really adds a lot of diversity and attitude as you progress through the game.

TD: Are there any plans for a demo coming before launch?

TW: No, because it’s a pretty complex game as you can figure, and the wasteland is like a plate that all the missions sit on. Logistically it’s just too darn big to do a demo. So we have worked hard on producing gameplay videos and press tours to get as many people to get hands on with the game. Unlike other first person shooters where you have one level after another level and you can just put one out as a demo, Rage is a sum of its parts and you really have to experience the game in its entirety to really grasp what it’s all about.

TD: And Rage releases quite soon, early October on the major platforms I believe?

TW: It’s 6th or 7th, in the US it’s the 4th. It’s on all three platforms. People often ask me which platform should I play it on, and my response is which platform do you prefer to play most of your games on? If you are a console gamer with a brand new PC you can hook a 360 controller to your PC. If you are a PS3 gamer the great thing is the game comes on one disk, whereas the 360 version comes on three, but with each system the gameplay is the same, there is nothing that is cut from the console versions, so I would encourage people to experience the game on whichever system they prefer.

TD: Are there any plans for DLC after launch?

TW: Yes, some folks back at id Software are working on DLC right now, we will solidify and finalise our DLC plans after the game is released so we can find out what people actually like and want more of. We plan to support the title, we think this is going to be a big franchise for us and we want people to know that when they buy this game, we will be with them for as long as we can.

TD: Thanks again Tim for taking the time to talk to us today, we are definitely looking forward to seeing the game out on shelves very soon.

TW: Thanks for taking the time to chat, and we hope that everyone in New Zealand enjoys the game as much as we enjoyed making it.

Go here to visit the official Rage site.

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