The PC market seems to be picking up again. Have you found that to be true? You guys have delved a lot in the space.
KC: I think on the PC side of things, it runs in cycles depending on what's happening on the console side -- that's just natural. A new console comes out, it's leading on the edge of technology and they get out the door. The PC begins to exceed that, it goes that route again.
I think the PC is such an open platform, when you're looking at where cutting edge innovation happens in the space -- and all types of things, entertainment -- running from what's happening just on the game, then going out online, and internet games, and stuff like that. The PC is just such an exciting pioneer space. Yeah, I see that the PC will just have its ebb and flow but it will continue to be a great gaming platform.
SN: It looked like the PC actually had an uptake on sales last year, for the first time in years. We like to see it. We never left the PC at id software. Doom 3 was our most successful game ever and that was about evenly split between the Xbox and the PC. So while the consoles are very important to us these days, we're definitely not planning on leaving the PC. It's still an important platform for us.
It seems to be, in some ways, the secondary level platform, in terms of retailers. They hide it in the back corner. I feel like now it's coming back up to the front again. I guess we'll see what happens there. How many people do you have at id now?
SN: I'm not even sure. We just hired a couple of people, so we're in the high thirties but we're still a miniscule shop, I think, in today's triple-A... considering what we're working on now, you can't even call it next gen. It's next-next gen. So the fact that we're able to do next-next gen content on the new game, and we're talking only thirty people on the entire team. So that high thirties [estimate] includes superfluous people, like myself, [laughs] but we're a small team. Honestly, not to be too much of a sales line -- I think that's the power of our technology. It allows us to create the games we do, because it's a small team. We're not planning on becoming a three hundred-person megastudio anytime soon.
KC: Part of that is a just personal decision, or philosophy, on how to run a company. We want to make a great game but we want to enjoy doing it. When you get your team size too large, the individual on the team doesn't feel like he's making a credible contribution. He feels like he's just one of the names on the list.
Our guys, when they're working on a project, they're really providing a meaningful contribution to the game and they can point to that game and say that they made a significant difference in it. That's important for developers when they look at themselves as being artists. In terms of spending three years on a technology, that's a lot of their creative life. When they're able to point at something and say that they made a big difference in that, that's important.
How are you saying that it's next-next gen? Obviously that can't be in terms of console generation. What does it actually mean?
SN: I would say that it actually is. Because we can, with our new technology, it allows us to reach a higher level of visual fidelity than anything that's shipping right now. If you call the next gen on the console right now, we're beyond that.
But they can only display what they can display.
SN: Right. Primarily because of texture constraints and we've actually eliminated that problem.
Also televisions can display only what they can display, if you're considering the console side.
SN: Right. But we can still do higher texture density on the screen. If you were to actually look around you and do the actual textures that it would take to fill that, it's far more than any game in history has ever displayed. We're actually able to approach that level of reality with our new technology.
KC: There's no limit to the variety, in terms of a scene. None of that is an issue for us to deal with anymore. So I would say that a lot of technologies may take advantage of the platform, but the way John approached it has redefined what the platform can do. I think that when you talk to people and say "OK, let's make a game with completely unique texturing. If you choose to, no one space is exactly the same as another.”
Before this was started on, people would say that was impossible. That's a lot of things people have said about when we started talking about real fast action first person shooting when you talk about a real 3D environment, like with Quake series, people thought that was impossible at the time. Then John came out, set his mind to it, and did it. I think it's the same thing for our next game.