John Carmack today announced id Software’s new franchise, Rage, a game that blends the best elements of action and adventure built on id’s new id Tech 5 engine and developed for a simultaneous launch on the PC, Mac, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software, walked me through what to expect from the game and the Quake Con presentation earlier this afternoon.
“It’s more than just a first-person shooter, we will show vehicles and racetracks, driving and racing elements,” he said. “It is an action-oriented game but with a lot of adventure elements. It will be story driven, but you can also choose your own route to go through things.”
The game’s basic story is one centred around an oppressive “machine” you are rallying against. While the game, which id has been working on for more than 18 months, will still have indoor and outdoor shooter elements, it will also have plenty of racing including some road rage and the ability to mod and soup up your vehicle.
While Rage will be the first game to launch on id Tech 5, that doesn’t mean that id has ruled out future versions of their exiting franchises hitting the new engine, Hollenshead said.
“We haven’t made the decision that that’s not going to happen, it just isn’t internally.” he said. “We’ve been helping out with Quake 4 and with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, but we wanted to do something new and different and get everyone’s creative juices flowing. That’s the impetus behind this. id is a studio that has the ability to launch new IPs and give people something new and not have to swim as much upstream.”
While the fact that id Software is working on an entirely new franchise is exciting, the big news, Hollenshead said, is the engine the game is running on an engine that can allow a developer to create games for the Mac, the PC, the Xbox 360 and the PS3 simultaneously by using identical media for all four platforms.
“Rage looks the same on all four platforms. It’s all the same media, it’s the same art, literally” he said. “It’s damn hard to do that, but if you’re a genius you’ll figure out how to do it and that’s what (Carmack) has done.”
The brief tech demo of Rage shown at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference was running at 60hz on the Mac, something it will do on all platforms without any discernible difference, he said.
Typically when a game is being developed for multiple platforms, Hollenshead said, you have to lower the resolution for different platforms, or have less stuff in the environment going on. But with id Tech 5 there is no changes in any of the versions, Hollenshead said.
“That is huge, you don’t have to have a second, third development team working on your different ports,” he said. “For instance with a game based on a movie licence, where you are tied to a specific launch date, previously you had your problem platform and you would put 150 people on it to get it to work. There’s no need for that with id Tech 5 as long as you are prudent with your production management.”
I asked Hollenshead about the whole furor surrounding Unreal’s engine and accusations that it doesn’t work as well with the Playstation 3. Hollenshead acknowledged that the PS3’s architecture does have some interesting challenges, but said they figured them out. id brought on one of the top PS3 programmers in the world to help with the design of the engine from the beginning.
“From a architectural standpoint, (id Tech 5) was intended from the beginning to be a multiplatform engine,” he said.
While id Software plans to eventually license their new cross-platform engine, that probably won’t happen until closer to the end of this year.