Why Was The PC Launch Of Rage Such A Mess?

The idea from the start was a game that blurred the lines between how games looked on console and PC. id Software's most famous games, actually all of its major games, were titles built on the computer first, then brought to consoles later.

But not with Rage. id Software's big genre-blending shooter was created using the company's new id Tech 5 technology, an engine designed to run across all platforms, console or PC, with the same assets.

But somehow the end result wasn't just a game that looked worse on one platform, it was a game that, at least for some, looked worse on the one platform id had for so long embraced: The computer.

The chief issue with the current state of Rage on the computer, id says, is mostly one caused by the drivers that help the game interface with graphics cards made by NVIDIA and ATI, something very frustrating for the perfectionists at id.

While Rage was built on technology meant to make the game the same on all platforms, it was still built using computers. Specifically, Rage creative director Tim Willits, told me the studio's internal development tools run on 64-bit PC systems, but when the game is submitted to the "build system", all platforms are created.

That's when the game is tested, rigorously.

"This system has led to incredibly solid and bug-free 360 and PS3 versions," Willits said. "Unfortunately, we have had video driver issues that have caused problems and frustrations with our PC fans. Everyone at id Software is very upset by these issues which are mostly out of our control. We are working with both AMD/ATI and NVIDIA to help them identify and fix the issues with their drivers. We've had assurances that these problems are being addressed and new drivers will be available soon."

The issues were so severe that it drove the normally soft-spoken Carmack to cuss. Well, nearly cuss. In a response to Kotaku about the launch problems, Carmack censored himself, but the anger was still there.

"The driver issues at launch have been a real cluster [email protected]#$," he wrote. "We were quite happy with the performance improvements that we had made on AMD hardware in the months before launch; we had made significant internal changes to cater to what AMD engineers said would allow the highest performance with their driver and hardware architectures, and we went back and forth with custom extensions and driver versions."

"We knew that all older AMD drivers, and some NVIDIA drivers would have problems with the game, but we were running well in-house on all of our test systems. When launch day came around and the wrong driver got released, half of our PC customers got a product that basically didn't work. The fact that the working driver has incompatibilities with other titles doesn't help either. Issues with older/lower-end/exotic setups are to be expected on a PC release, but we were not happy with the experience on what should be prime platforms."

A question of prime platforms elicited another surprising response from Carmack, one he says he knows won't make people happy.

I've noticed that among those people who aren't enjoying the PC experience, I wrote to the developers, the underlying issue seems to be one driven by expectations. People seemed to have been hoping that this would be a game that proved the value of owning a PC over a console. But instead they got a game that they feel cut some corners to level the experience between console and PC. Do you think that is a fair assessment? Does id still see the PC as the leading platform to make games for?

"You can choose to design a game around the specs of a high-end PC and make console versions that fail to hit the design point, or design around the specs of the consoles and have a high-end PC provide incremental quality improvements," Carmack replied. "We chose the latter."

The fact that id had already decided that they wanted Rage to run at 60fps already removed one of the major things PC gamers look for in a title, he continued. That only left resolution, anti-aliasing and texture streaming as things that a PC gamer might want to see look better than on a console.

"We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games," Carmack added. "That statement will enrage some people, but it is hard to characterise it otherwise; both console versions will have larger audiences than the PC version. A high-end PC is nearly 10 times as powerful as a console, and we could unquestionably provide a better experience if we chose that as our design point and we were able to expend the same amount of resources on it. Nowadays most of the quality of a game comes from the development effort put into it, not the technology it runs on. A game built with a tenth the resources on a platform 10 times as powerful would be an inferior product in almost all cases."

Image: Reddit


Comments

    I think I'm one of the few people whose PC the game runs perfectly fine on for, however I still can't make myself play the game after the hour or so I've played and heres why:
    It looks really, really, BAD. Apart from some amazing scenic views anything within 50 meters is generally a blurry mix and I can't stand it. I just can't.
    The thing that makes me RAGE the most is that iD software could have avoided that by simply providing higher resolution textures on the PC version. It wouldn't have impacted any of the other versions and the game is designed to provide more or less infinite detail in textures.
    Carmack and co dropped the ball big time in my opinion, as I was hoping this technology was going show the industry something new, as iD have always done, but they didn't.
    A lot of respect points have been thrown away with this for me.

      ...and yet, it's not supposed to look like that, so clearly it's /not/ running perfectly fine on there!

        There are a lot of people in a lot of places talking about how bad the textures in this game are.
        It really is appalling that we were sold on the idea of an awesome looking game that looks 5 years old. Maybe more. It's a pretty average game and deathly boring in parts, but the graphics could have been a saving grace.
        Imagine if ID did just make engines, then let people who care about gaming make the game?

        You can actually change the cfg files to increase the texture resolutions used. There is an online site that generates a cfg based on things u select you want in the game.

      Complete reinstall of Win7 Ultimate 64-bit. Apply so called Preview drivers.

      Nope. Still fucking crashes! How do I get a refund? Oh sorry Steam user we don't do that!

    well clearly they didn't do a beta or else this would have been picked up.

      A beta for a single-player game, that is normally called a demo

        No, it's still called a beta. A beta is a testing build. A demo is a promotional slice of a release build, or very close to it. A decent beta test here might have saved them a lot of grief.

    I'm glad they didn't get any of my money for this steaming pile.

    The problems besides the texture pop up when turning are textures are generally very low quality. Even when doing the cfg fixes to make them higher res, they still look horrible. Also lets not forget all the crashing on loading screens that has been happening. Ohh and also how could we miss the fact that there is essentially no video options, on a pc game... Wtf.
    It's a clear port and not a very good one, and to have them blame it on drivers. Poor form.
    Don't get me wrong though, I have been enjoying the game somewhat when it works.
    But visually and technically it really is nothing special at all.
    Biggest dissapoinment of 2011 for me.

    So does this mean Xbox is the new Master Race?

      *falls on ground into the fetal position, rocking back-and-forth*

      The trouble comes from the fact that x-box is a cheap constant. Over the last 6 years, everyone bought one, and now developers can make a fortune selling games for it. Everyone has a pc, too, but why waste money upgrading it for games on a regular basis when you can get a similar, if slightly lower quality, experience on the 6 year old piece of crap sitting next to the tv?

      The price of upgrading to keep pace is what has reduced the value of developing for the pc. Not that the xbox is a better platform, it's just a cheaper platform that you don't have to upgrade all the time to enjoy playing. Once the console world goes through the next update phase, it will probably be back to the pc for a while, then onto those new consoles for a few years again.

      The only thing that will shake people away from console gaming and keep them away is making quality titles that are PC only. Make people realise WHY the PC is a better platform, even if it costs money to maintain it. Once that happens, maybe we will start to see the shift.

      But it won't happen. Because producers tell developers to go where the money is, not where they can make the best game.

      And that just sucks balls

      Dude, totally, bro. Toss me a brewski!

      ...Oh my lord... what's happening to me? o_O

    Dear ID
    .....it's time to hand-over the FPS crown to someone else, you had a good run but you have drop the ball one too many times.

    Man, Kotaku is obsessed with this Rage game, which looks pretty mediocre...

    RAGE is a mad game! Guns havent felt this "chunky" since Doom3. Graphics are great, and the texture pop-in isnt an issue at all - we're talking in milliseconds here, on less than 1/2 of the full scene, which is actually caused by bottlenecks in the system, not the engine! Just remember, this engine scales texture quality based on the frame-rate, to keep it at 60fps at all times! When it comes to PC's, you can have all the power in the world, but their so clogged up with useless shit, that the true power cannot be squeezed - just remember performance is different to power! (ie try racing a drag-car on Laguna Seca...)

      Bad idea for an argument there. Doom 3 was average at best.

    id software have gone from being the darlings of PC FPS over the last decade to being pariahs. I'm sure Carmack is sorry but only because id have had so much bad publicity. Issues that have been occurring should all have been sorted out during beta testing. There is something seriously wrong with the QA department in id Software for there to be so many issue with this release. Let's hope consoles don't ruin Skyrim.

    Rage is a great shooter.

    But thats it.

    The RPG elements are mediocre at best and the open world isn't open at all. It fails to immerse me in the world and I hate almost every character in the story. The first guy who saves you pretends your his best friend after 20 minutes of running errands for him.

    I keep as far away as possible as I can. The graphics aren't revolutionary, they are just deceptive with what you see. Sure the texture load in doesn't bother gameplay but it takes you out of the world.

    Fallout immersed me with a huge world to explore.
    Metro 2033 immersed me with lived in streets full of people and culture.

    Rage sits somewhere in the middle and can't make up it's mind.

      This is probably the most succinct point anybody can make about the game.

      RAGE is mechanically sound but has no soul. Nothing to care about; it's not an experience so much as a series of pretty images you're told you should like.

    Rage is an amazing game by any means but it isn't meant to be Fallout, it isn't meant to be Borderlands even. Its a shooter with limited RPG elements. Why lambaste a game for not being something it wasn't trying to be? It's like saying The Hurt Locker was crap because the action was too slow.

    I must say though, I preordered on PS3 and immediately returned it for the 360 version. The texture pop-in on the PS3 made the game almost unplayable for me, i'd turn around and the entire landscape would look like a smooth mass for about 3-5 seconds and if i turned around once more, it'd happen again. I wouldn't even call the console versions the "good" ones. The 360 runs MUCH better, though.

      I actually do think the Hurt Locker was crap because the action was slow. The story had been told before in about 10 other, more exciting, films. Watch Apocalypse Now again if you don't believe me.

    Quite simply, I will turn away from developers that turn away from PC gaming.

    Good luck to them, But i won't support a developer for them to produce sub par products on my platform of choice.

    Must be easy for you tech fanboys to be ready to show id the door after one game with aesthetic problems.

    Sounds to me like everyone overhyped this game to themselves; publishers and media are probably somewhat responsible for that, too.

    Those complaining the RPG elements are too lite; that was the ideas. It's a shooter with a dash of RPG; but by no means did they want stat crunching and object minding to replace moment-to-moment shooter action.

    The pop in will be fixed on the pc, so chill out.

    As a developer myself, and avid gamer, I have never understood this "purity" divide between pc gamers and console gamers.

    When did games stop being art and become benchmarks? When did games stop being about the games and more about how much you can re-assure yourself that your $5000 pc wasn't a waste of money?

    Hardware doubles in speed every 18months, software is behind that. Power is a runaway train and these guys have worked tirelessly for 6 years to make a good game.

    How dare you all dismiss, with such disdain, the handwork of talented, passionate people, because of some low res textures.

    They are innovators, and innovation first requires sacrifice; remember the first phone cameras? The cameras were less than a MEga Pixel and looked horrible.

    That's innovation.

    If you're a gamer, play the game on the platform that works; there shouldn't be any crying about "consoles ruin gaming, waaaaaaaaa" and "pc4lyf bro".

    Progress is what it is; hug a bouy in your flooded street because of nostalgia, or climb in the life raft and move the f#ck on!

    What makes it worse is that most of you seem to have hoped the flood water to be sprinkled with rainbow dust. Stop disappointing yourselves.

    Carmack, you did well and I know this will be rectified.

      You trying to land a new job by giving words of praise to these asshats?

      Yes people here are being unnecessarily harsh to Carmack and id. But the "if you can't beat em, join em," mentality just cannot work here.

      "While Rage was built on technology meant to make the game the same on all platforms, it was still built using computers. Specifically, Rage creative director Tim Willits, told me the studio’s internal development tools run on 64-bit PC systems, but when the game is submitted to the “build system”, all platforms are created.

      That’s when the game is tested, rigorously."

      Driver issues aside, it remains so obvious, they had their engine running out code to work on various different systems, but when the leading console (x360) had it good, then they didn't need to take care of guys like PC as their company had a reputation for doing so. It's clear how everyone could get so mad.

      "They are innovators, and innovation first requires sacrifice; remember the first phone cameras? The cameras were less than a MEga Pixel and looked horrible."

      That's right, BUT the rest of the camera industry didn't just cave in and make mobile phone cameras after that, just because it became all the rage. They kept making excellent quality full digital cameras for domestic and professional use, and still do.

    Im running RAGE on Xbox360 and it works perfect!

      Facepalm...

        *dodged*

    That's right John, blame everyone else because you failed to deliver not just a game that was good, but that actually worked.

    MelbDev, you say a lot of words but you don't form valid points. For example, "innovation first requires sacrifice; remember the first phone cameras? The cameras were less than a Mega Pixel and looked horrible" yeah well, you know, that's like your opinion, man. The first cameras were an improvement (over what we had - nothing) and caused phone companies to implement better screens for viewing and over time we got better and better phones. How is there sacrifice anywhere in there? Did you see it as a concern that the camera you got on your phone wasn't a megapixel? No, because at the time, small digital cameras were just as crap.
    Stop ranting like a moron and think before you hit [submit]

    For what it's worth, PC gamers like to see a superior product on our system because we spend much more money on systems that can run superior video/audio, so that we can actually use it, not just have it there to brag. Stop being an asshat, you're really surprised the people who most likely built their own gaming machines are actually passionate about said gaming machines? Idiot..

    Sacrifice in camera quality; by sacrifice I mean that to move forward, and innovate, often the combined technology takes a compromise before both merged products outweigh their separate counterparts.

    And I'm sick of people sooking, man. A game is a game, and an expensive pc is just a piece of hardware. If you like games, Don't complain that their not up to your standards.

    Or maybe go and make your own games.

    When I say 'your' I mean in the general sense.

    The point is, don't wipe id off because there are hiccups in the new tech; it always happens but people? These days, are so quick to throw their hands up and say "that's it, I'm done" when these devs work sleepless, unpaid hours at night to give you entertainment.

    Sure, I didn't write a thesis, this is a forum; I'm merely saying that everyone needs to stop moaning.

      Oh look the old flawed argument of" I'd like to see you do better"

      They put out a game that literally did not work for alot of people on one platform.
      Other companies do this, but don't sound like an asshat and dismissive of everyone who plays on that platform when they screw up.

      As for people complaining, they are all having issues with running the game, if thats not a legit complaint I dont know what is.

      You miss the point. Software (such as games) is a service, as software devs are so fond of telling us these days, and we are the consumer. If they want our money, they better deliver what they promise, and if they don't and the product is broken we have every right to be angry and demand the situation be rectified.

      I'm sick of being sold shoddy, obviously not ready products, penalized with horrible, sometimes game breaking drm which doesn't affect pirates but totally messes with legitimate customers, and being given half arsed ports which play terribly.

      I pay my money so i damn well deserve more then the crap many devs are serving up to us lately.

    Suck it up, its the internet, people will complain about anything and nothing you type will change it in the slightest.

    At the end of the day your complaining about people complaining, and that sir makes you look like an asshat.

    It's an unfortunate truth that consoles are now the platform everyone worries about first. Pisses me off beyond anything. Even more annoying that there's nothing that PC gamers can do about it except for complain. It's not like one day all of a sudden developers will give a shit about the platform that made so many of them famous.

      Sorry man couldn't hear you over how awesome this game is on my console - complain all you want, but the rest of us are pretty much moving on with our lives and are actually playing the game...

      :'( <-- That's you
      :-D <-- That's everyone else

    The reality is that the state of graphics drivers and APIs on PC is a huge, disgusting mess. The APIs are too high-level and the drivers are too inconsistent. If you want something to blame, look at AMD and NVIDIA for supporting and continuing the DirectX/OpenGL/driver quagmire.

    The bug was in the drivers (i.e. the OS) and people are so fast to blame the developers, as always. I develop non-game software on Windows and the same happens to us too. People report bugs to us, and the error code they get is some obscure Windows issue. Do they report the bug to Microsoft or their hardware vendor? Probably not, I bet.

    "It's funny how we (PC gamers), the people who established the video game industry, are treated like complete garbage by developers today. Thanks for the loyalty. "

    This is a comment on this article on the American Kotaku page. I think it sums this whole thing up nicely.

      Oh.. and by (We PC Gamers who established the industry) you mean all the developers who happened to make games for the PC which you subsequently enjoyed and played right???
      And because of that they somehow owe you some weird loyalty and trophy for keeping to a Mouse and Keyboard all these?

      Shit... I think it's best you email John Carmack and let him know this, because that guy is WAY behind the times with these gimpy console do-dads!

    Do you people understand how much games cost to make?

    Devs go where the market goes. Consoles are more profitable as a business strategy, plain and simple. Things change - you can cry and hold on, or move on. Thats the reality.

    Pc just is not as viable for the amount of returns needed to generate this sort of project to begin with.

    Plus, Bethesda published it; ever think they might have forced it out the door against Ids will?

    It's not as simple as "oh John screwed up and they hate us!"

      Yup,thats why their business began on PC and all their biggest selling titles are on it...

      That's why Steam is incredibly profitable and their was just a report that digital sales had overtaken physical copy sales...

      Yep definitely not profitable, I'm beginning to think you either want to work for this company or just really blind to the reality that the game is broken and people want it fixed, not told that the consoles are the best way foward

    Funy thing is, devs loose more way money to the second hand console market than to piracy on PC's.
    Sales might be higher on consoles, but thats only because retailers ignore online sales and skew the numbers in favor of consoles, and why wouldn't they when they can make 5x as much money from the one game, at the expense of the developers.

      I still don't get this logic... Not a single game I sell in store ever sells more on pc than it's consoles counterpart. So why aren't devs allowed to capitalize on that? Also, the 360 dev kit is still the most streamlined and easiest to use as a dev, as mentioned, and I agree wholeheartedly with a comment earlier, about PCs having so many driver/ API requirements it's ridiculous. Every brand tried to make the best graphics card etc but when everything cOmes tigether you can't guarantee it will run great for everyone... Simple!

      Tats tru.

      When they do the sales charts, for PC games they ALWAYS just mention RETAIL SALES and NEVER online sales. The point is, PC games get sold like crazy online, esp on Steam. Lets see how console game sales fare then. Add in the fact tat some retailers like EB games do 2nd-hand CONSOLE game sales, I wouldn't be surprised if the developers make more $$$ from PC games than console titles.

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