How do you build that many textures when you've got thirty people? Or is there some generation that you can do of these things, deviations?
KC: It's a combination of tools. We do spend a lot of time in the tools. Our philosophy on that is to give the artist as much power as we can, rather than relying on a bunch of procedural solutions. But certainly procedural solutions can come into play on that. Fundamentally, at the base level, you're talking about just a really powerful texture streaming solution. How those textures are generated, for us, a lot of it depends on how the artist wants to approach it.
He has complete freedom in how he approaches that and we give him very powerful tools for being able to do it. When you look at what games are doing right now, they take a tiled solution and then they try to cover it up by a bunch of layers of stuff. You layer decals and you layer different types of little brushes and foliage and scratches and things like that, and what you end up with is a procedural solution that has to work in realtime.
Then you have a whole bunch of overdraw overhead and a whole bunch of additional geometrical overhead in order to pull it off. Anything that you can do there, you can do a hell of a lot better before realtime... You can get rid of all that geometry overhead and overdraw problems that come with trying to cover up the fact that you're a tiled solution.
Let's see if there's anything else I need to get into here.
KC: How cool Enemy Territory Quake Wars is? [laughs]
Well, you know we could.. but uh... [laughs] Since we're the developer-focused side I actually haven’t been looking at hardly any games [at E3]. It's kind of bad in a way. I'm going to come back from this as ignorant about all the new stuff as I was when I arrived.
KC: I tell you what, if you do get a chance to hook back around with us on the Enemy Territory stuff, you should get the opportunity to sit down with Paul Wedgwood and Splash Damage. Not here, because the show's almost over. But it's a real cool story because you're talking about a group of developers who started out as community developers, clan players. When we first started on Enemy Territory, we were dealing with a team of less than ten people. They really built themselves up to be a tremendous...
Were they a mod team before?
KC: Yeah, and now they're a full team. Some of the best artists and technology guys that I've worked with, really a success story. When you look at what's going on with Enemy Territory, it itself is a very unique game. It's providing something I don't think people have done, which is the really very focused team-play game.
People believing that modders make a good team... it goes up and down. For a while, modders or hackers were the people that you hired. Then that sort of took a downturn in terms of them being seen as actual creative people or just a bunch of jerks. It seems like some people are still saying modders are the people you should talk to.
KC: Absolutely. When you look at a lot of the guys at id software itself, these people came from the community. Id, from the beginning, when we started off with Doom, we were the first company to release all our tools out there, and game code, for people to make mods. John's career started off as sort of tinkering with computers and that type of stuff. I think he enjoys providing that same type of access to people. I think he really wants to provide this creative solution. For us, a lot of our guys like Tim Willits is from the community, our lead guy, lead designer. So there's a lot of talent out there to take advantage of.
Frankly, from our perspective, when I'm looking at hiring somebody and I can actually see stuff they've done, to me that pulls more weight than a degree. Although certainly degrees are important as well, but I want to see what kind of things that they've done that are practical, dealing with the constraints that are inside of the game and the tools that are part of game development. Plus guys that work in the community, these guys are passionate about games. This is what they've always wanted to do.
So when you bring guys like that together, I think it really makes a difference. Because to make something entertaining you really have to bring your personality. It is entertainment; it's not like throwing assets together and making it into some kind of puzzle. The personality of the developer really shows through in the better games.