Talking RAGE's gameplay, PC graphics, and the old Duke-Doom rivalry with id's Jason Kim
PC Gamer field operative Chris Comiskey recently invaded a top-secret Bethesda compound buried deep beneath the arctic wastes. After accosting and subduing numerous guards with their own boxer shorts, Chris was apprehended just outside of Senior Producer Jason Kim’s office when he tripped over a discarded Snickers bar wrapper. Knowing he was defeated, Chris requested that before being drowned in a giant vat of delicious hot chocolate, he might have the chance to ask Mr. Kim everything he knew about the upcoming id Shooter: RAGE. Mr. Kim agreed, and the below interview was smuggled out via a hidden, chilled carrier pigeon. Chris has not been heard from since.
PC Gamer: How has RAGE’s development differed from older id games?
Jason Kim: The main differences was that we needed a lot more people to make RAGE than we’ve ever needed for past projects.
PCG: How many people? 50? 100?
JK: I won’t give you an exact number, but its nearing 80. It’s about four times more than we had for Doom 3 when that was in development. When we start making a game, we start from the ground up with the technology. It’s awesome to have John Carmack. We also have a team of other programmers that are smart for gameplay and systems and now we have the ability to make the entire world on a per-pixel level unique.
PCG: For the multiplayer combat rally mode—where players race around in vehicles and blast each other silly, collecting points for kills and staying alive—is there going to be any sort of FPS driving mode? It looked like it might all third-person.
JK: You mean different camera views? We had toyed with the idea. We aren’t going to do an in-cockpit [view] because we aren’t going to be a driving simulation racer.
PCG: So it’ll be more Twisted Metal style?
JK: We want it to be very [arcade-y], with upgrades for the vehicles to make them feel more stable and beef up the armor, and items and more weapons and better ways to kill you opponent. We want to stick to that, we want to stay on the action side, and we want to stay on the arcade feel of the vehicles because we want you to have that as an extension of the FPS combat experience. We certainly know well that you can’t go guns a blazing and kill 10 guys with the pistol... so the vehicles go the same way, arcade-y. We gave them some options with different weapons with upgrades, but we still keep it on that action side.
PCG: Is there going to be a vehicle mode in the multiplayer co-op missions? Or are vehicles specifically for the combat rally deathmatch portion?
JK: [In terms of online,] the vehicle rally-mode—is the [only multiplayer] vehicle mode.
PCG: So in co-op, you won’t, for example, be running alongside a buggy as your friend drives it?
JK: No, we made a conscious decision there. Opportunities do exist all over when we're talking about RAGE, and [some of] the fun things we can do... [but] there are so many different things we can do, it's almost too much freedom to be able to do anything. Because you can think of anything and [say,] "Oh yeah, we should do that, it sounds like fun."
But the conscious decision was that this co-op experience needs to be focused. You're doing the same mechanics you had in your first FPS combat experience, but you're using a buddy to help you out, and the cooperative experience is telling you side-portions of the single-player campaign that you wouldn’t [otherwise get.] Now you have this texture, this foundation that it belongs in the world and you have a buddy there to help you out. We call it "Legends of the Wasteland," because they actually helped progress you, the player, in the single-player campaign to what culminates to a final battle with the Authority.
PCG: You mentioned that the co-op intertwines with the single-player. So if you play co-op to start with, will it spoil the single-player campaign?
JK: No, because I think we haven’t fully decided whether its going to be a progression you unlock as you go, or if it'll be opened in chunks. Even if you were able to play the entire thing, it won’t spoil what you ultimately do in the single-player campaign, because these are little story-nuggets that can’t stand on their own. They're an additive to giving you an understanding of where [your allies] came from, so we're not going to spoil the entire game just by playing through the co-op.
PCG: Are there any Easter Eggs that you want to tease at?
JK: There are actually a couple, but we haven’t talked about them. Its up to players to recognize them. Those are the fun things: there’s no risk, we can do it [so] why not. So we have a couple of other things in there and if players want to go around a look around every corner, they can find these things. Just fun little, almost trivial factoids. “Oh, I recognize what that is.”
PCG: This might be more of a design question, but what's the process for putting a story into an FPS? For example, do you design the game engine so you can make the basic game and build story off of that, or is it story first and you make the game [later?]
JK: Different companies do this in different ways and one of the ways that we’ve done it in RAGE is that there's a foundation for very high-level of what we want to accomplish. The technology allows us to do certain things... the way to approach making an FPS from id soft where we have a high-level idea of what the story is, and ultimately, as we move forward,and make the next game and the games after that, we want to add more story. We’ve taken that next big step because in the past we haven’t been about story because it was directed, because story didn’t matter that much... we [wanted] the player to have a gun in hand, shooting dudes. That’s fun. If you can’t execute that, hows the story going to help?
But now we want to tell a story. Now we want to tell the narrative. We want that to complement that feeling, that combat feedback that we were known for and are still known for. We married those two things together, and with the technology that allows to create an FPS that's different, that's kind of pushing the boundaries of what we’ve been comfortable with, because we now have characters in RAGE that are deep and the story does go farther than we’ve taken things in the past and we want to push those boundaries in further... [we're aiming to make] something that really has a cohesive element from beginning to end.