The current console cycle (regrettable dictator of modern game graphics – hey, can we rebel using Twitter?) kicked off more than five years ago, and, well, it's seen better days. Our PCs, meanwhile, are like hulking pro athletes running around in the little leagues, easily rendering everything at ultra high spec while yawning and disinterestedly flipping through an old magazine. There's simply no sport in it. Fortunately, id Software's resident mega-brain John Carmack has our backs. At this point, though, even he may have hit a wall.
“I have done a fair amount of research work this year to help clarify our next generation directions, but so far they have mostly been negative results – I know we won’t be rendering with a triangle intersection ray tracer on the next gen, for instance,” he said on the Bethesda Blog.
“I have a couple more research projects to undertake in the coming year, but the technical work I am most excited about doesn’t have anything to do with graphics, but instead with the data management and work flow through the development process.”
He did, however, add that today's games look “incredible.” Even so, we think we'll manage to contain ourselves over the data management and work flow solutions. It'll be tough, but we'll find a way.
All told, we're of two minds about this graphical standstill. On one hand, it's going to become much tougher for publishers to solely sell games based on “OMG skin textures so detailed that you can see the pores from space!” More creativity is never a bad thing. On the other hand, we like shiny things. It seems, then, that we have reached an impasse.
Maximum PC has had the pleasure of speaking to Carmack on a number of occasions. This story, which appeared in our December 1997 issue, was an important one. It's hard to remember back all the way to 1997, which for gamers represented the onset of the age of 3D gaming. John Carmack was one of the key innovators during this era and was also an insurrectionist of sorts for attempting to rally game developers around the OpenGL standard as opposed to Direct3D. Those were heady times for gamers, and Carmack maintained a constant presence online via his "finger" file.
These days, the 3D landscape is an entirely different (and mature) scene. While id has lost some relevance as Epic has become more dominant and more game development studios have begun rolling their own 3D engines, Carmack remains a guru and a titan of 3D engine design. His next engine - and id's next game - is named Rage.
Click on the pages for a fascinating look at what the state of 3D games and 3D engines was 13 years ago.
John Carmack needs no introduction - since 1991 he's been the main engine development guy for id Software. Shortly after his 40th birthday, we caught up with the tru engineer for a quick 8-question Q&A.
When you're at the forefront of an emerging trend, you're bound to have imitators. Such is the case with Fallout, a series that's been wandering wastelands and mutilating mutants since long before videogaming came down with an incurable case of post-apocalypse fever. Imitation's a sticky subject, though. Sometimes, it's just a sh**-eating grin away from outright flattery, but other times, it's a lawsuit and a career-in-tatters away from bold-faced plagiarism.
So, the question arises: where, exactly, does RAGE stand? Well, we saw the game in action at QuakeCon, and we decided to run a little DNA test on the post-apocalyptic shooter in order to find out how it stacks up against its closest living – and also Bethesda-published – relative. So, without further ado, let's see what makes RAGE tick.
Between all the blaring heavy metal music, impromptu Pat Benatar concerts, and five hour-long John Carmack manifestos, you could be forgiven for thinking that QuakeCon is not a place for serious business. And you'd be right. Well, mostly.
Fortunately, we were on hand in an effort to collect whatever scraps of news might fall from id's table, and we came away surprisingly sated. So, without further ado, here's what happened.
Doom 4 Nowhere to be Found, Check Back Next Year -- It was the perfect storm. John Carmack tweeted that he was working on a little something special for QuakeCon, and Todd Hollenshead – who is incapable of lying – said we'd see Doom 4 this year. One eternity in a room with John Carmack later (rumor has it that he's still talking), and here's what we've seen of Doom 4. See it? Right there? Oh, is that a blank space? Huh. Imagine that.
“When it’s done” has been id Software’s catchphrase since time immemorial, so – while we don’t like to toot our own horns – we saw this coming the day RAGE was announced. In fact, we’ve had this article ready to go for years, as we’re in desperate need of a real hobby. So, who won the Presidential election? Was it McCain? We have a good feeling about his chances. Also, we’d just like to dedicate some space to our admiration for Tiger Woods. Such upstanding moral fiber from a man who could – if he wanted to – have his pick of the litter. Also, the iPhone? Never gonna catch on. Anyway, here’s id Software’s Tim Willits explaining why RAGE won’t be hulk-smashing its way into 2010.
“Because we haven’t even hit alpha on this thing yet. But we’re working very hard and we’re getting close to that. But it’s important that we get this right. There’s nothing worse than pushing something out before it’s ready. And the great thing about Bethesda and Zenimax is [that] the executive management has the faith in us to give us the resource that we need to do the right game,” he said.
“Because, trust me, it would be horrible if we were to release it and it was bad. So, we’re going to get the resources that we need and we’re going to get the polish that we need.”
All right. That’s all from us. If you see future us, make sure to ask how the 40-story mansion’s doing. Boy oh boy, investing all of our money into HD-DVD stocks is gonna pay off any day now.
Well, we now have absolute proof that at least one member of the PC gaming community wasn’t living in the hornets’ nest Infinity Ward stepped on when it announced that Modern Warfare 2 won’t support dedicated servers. Unfortunately, that one person is none other than id Software’s John Carmack.
“It’s not cast in stone yet, but at this point no, we don’t think [RAGE] will have dedicated servers,” Carmack told Variety’s Cut Scene blog. “The great thing is we won’t have to be a pioneer on that. We’ll see how it works out for everyone else.”
If it’s any consolation, RAGE is primarily a single-player game. But then, knowing id, we imagine that the game’s multiplayer component will still be better than most.
Remember Prey? No? It looked like Doom 3, but had portals (before they were cool) and doors that, well, let’s just say we felt like they should’ve been wearing pants. However, Prey was a pretty solid shooter, and when then-developer Human Head Games announced a sequel, we nodded our human heads in approval. Then came the silence.
Now, two years later, it seems that id Software/Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media has plucked Prey from development purgatory. A recent US Trademark Office abstract states that ZeniMax can basically do whatever it wants with the license, including movies, videogames, comic books, and “entertainment services.”
So then, what does this mean? Well, ZeniMax owns id, and id kind of, you know, invented the first-person shooter. Seems like a nice enough fit for Prey, if you ask us. What do you think? We think we’re right, and that there’s no room for argument, but that commenting field below – which literally presents a space in which one is encouraged to argue -- begs to differ.
Racing and shooting? Sometimes at the same time? Gee whiz, that sounds complicated. Surprisingly, though, id Software’s Todd Hollenshead thinks RAGE can pull off such a tricky balancing act in only one go and – as such – sees no need for an open beta. He said as much in an interview with VG247.
“I doubt there will be an open beta,” he stated, simply.
Well, what about a demo, then? RAGE may look, sound, and perhaps even taste great, but what if we’re still not sold on it? Is there hope for us yet?
“The demo question is hard to answer, because I don’t know what the development cycle will be like. We don’t have anything against demos or tests; we typically do that – probably – to a greater extent than almost anybody else in the industry, so my guess would be that we will have something, but that’s far from set in stone,” said Hollenshead.
So then, what will the demo be called? MILD IRRITATION?
Er, yeah... So, uh, what's the deal with airline food?
Day one of id Software’s annual ode to the art of frag is in the books, and as with any slain beast, that which was inside it (usually blood, sometimes candy, but – in this case -- news) is now out in the open for all eyes to see. So, without any further ado, here’s today’s installment of the QuakeCon Times.
Premium service coming to QuakeLive, Carmack confirms – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and Quake Live’s learning that lesson the hard way. According to id’s John Carmack, in-game ads simply couldn’t rocket-jump the game into profitability, so a subscription-based tier was needed. Fortunately, it’s optional, so – whether you’re filthy-rich or dirt-poor – blowing anonymous people into tiny giblets will always be a viable option.
New RAGE trailer makes us feel another emotion: envy – Guys and gals who are play-testing this game right now, we hate you. RAGE looks amazing, but one can only watch a trailer so many times before they start longing for something more. Luckily, we hear RAGE will include that newfangled “gameplay” feature that so many games these days support. Now if only we could try it out…
Carmack says id will put three AAA titles into development – So let’s see, that’s RAGE, Doom 4, and…? Don’t think id’s trying to pull a fast one on you, though; even Carmack and co. don’t know what their third team’s up to – mostly because they haven’t decided yet. Odds are, though, we won’t find out for quite some time, especially because…