[In this extensive interview, id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead and artist Andy Chang answer questions about the creative intent of Rage by describing exactly what the team hoped to accomplish from both art and design perspectives.]
Rage marks id Software's first major release since 2004's Doom 3. It's been in development for a long time, and features the company's own engine technology, id Tech 5, which has gone down some different technical paths than the majority of engines used in game development in 2011.
Gamasutra already spoke to legendary id programmer John Carmack about how he made the decisions when creating the engine, but that is, of course, not the whole story. In this feature interview, Gamasutra speaks to id artist Andy Chang and CEO Todd Hollenshead about the creative decisions the development staff made for Rage.
When it was first announced, the post-apocalyptic and wildly successful Fallout 3 wouldn't be released for over a year; Borderlands showed up a year after that. Does Rage have what it takes to compete in what has become a thriving sub-genre of the current generation? Do decisions made years ago bear fruit, or are they evolutionary dead ends?
In this extensive interview, Hollenshead and Chang answer such questions by describing exactly what the team hoped to accomplish from both art and design perspectives.
What do you personally feel is the unique element of Rage that's going to get people really playing it?
Todd Hollenshead: Well, the game has a number of things, but I think it starts off with -- as most games do -- with "What does it look like?" And when you look at Rage, regardless of what platform you're playing on, it is a game that doesn't look like any other game. It's the only game that has uniquely textured environment, it's the only game that's using id Tech 5, and visuals go a long way towards like, "Okay, this is something."
But we go beyond that with combining, I think, the classic elements of the shooter genre that we invented, with other elements as well, and when it's put all together -- as you play the game, the whole game is sort of brighter than the sum of its parts. And it's that element of putting these things together, as opposed to, "Well, we have this, and we have this, and we have this," and go down a check box list of features, or "We have this, and another game doesn't," or "we have that, and another game doesn't."
I don't actually feel like it looks unlike every other game. It does kind of look like Borderlands or Fallout to me. I mean, I'm sure, when you really get into the tech, it looks different. But it does have a similar kind of look and feel.
Andy Chang: It really came down to the approach of how we constructed the landscapes and stuff. Rather than using procedurally generated mountain programs or stuff like that, we developed our own technique of making unique geometry, and used the stamping system to make sure it didn't apparently look like things were tiled, and stuff like that. So that's kind of the approach we took to making it unique.
Do you think people will really notice? I mean, on the consumer side?
AC: We notice, and we're gamers. We make an effort to make sure it's visually excellent, so that's pretty much my train of thought on that.
Driving around the environments, I noticed these bandits are incredibly artistic. They've got art up on the walls, they're building structures and sculptures, and things like that. I feel like I'm going around and murdering an artist colony somehow.
AC: Yeah. Someone pointed it out -- he asked me if any of the artists had ever been to Burning Man. And I was like, "No, but we looked at lot of Burning Man pictures, so we tried to get in the heads of these guys." And you're right, they're probably found artists. They found garbage and they thought hey, this looks light enough, let's take it to our place and decorate with it.
Within the mythology of the game, is there a reason why these guys are so art-inclined?
AC: It's because they were made by guys that were art-inclined.