DALLAS--Remember when id Software sent out an international press release on May 4 titled "The Ultimate Battle Against Evil Continues in Doom 4"? That wasn't the official announcement of the upcoming game, according to Todd Hollenshead, CEO of developer id Software. ''I guess it wasn't officially announced, but it was well known," he told attendees for tonight's opening keynote address at the 2008 QuakeCon Convention. "So for you here at QuakeCon, we're officially announcing the next Doom game," he declared to some befuddlement.
Though long on public-relations confusion, tonight's QuakeCon opening events were short on news bombshells. However, the proceedings were not without a few tender info-morsels for on-hand id fans to chew on, including a lengthy (and highly technical) keynote address from id technical director and cofounder John Carmack. The conference opened with executive producer Marty Stratton as he talked even more about Quake Live, the upcoming free, browser-based remake of Quake III Arena.
The Quake Live closed beta test is current being played by about 50,000 players, with a few thousand added each week. Soon, id is planning to open the beta completely, but it did not specify a time frame. Shortly before the E3 Media & Business Summit, GameSpot spoke with Carmack about Quake Live and followed up today with Stratton for the latest on the project.
A major focus for id over the past few years has been a shift toward mobile gaming. Tonight, id Mobile president Katherine Anna Kang was happy to show off a brief trailer of the Wolfenstein role-playing game, as well as a teaser image of the Doom II RPG. Carmack has long said that the mobile platform is well suited for turn-based role-playing action and reiterated id's intention to develop games for Apple's ubiquitous iPhone. Carmack said that the platform was "more powerful than the DS and PSP combined" and that two projects are currently being considered for the App Store.
The crowd worked itself into a frenzy over the most anticipated game of QuakeCon, the recently previewed Rage. An extended version of the game's E3 trailer put a larger emphasis on the postapocalyptic actioner's Road Warrior-esque driving elements, showing several heavily armed dune buggies battling it out with mounted machine guns on a race track.
As the first game developed using id Tech 5, id's new in-house development engine, Rage will run at 60 frames per second and will feature a massive open world, thanks to id's new megatexturing technology. There's so much world in the multiplatform game, in fact, that the content will not fit onto two Xbox 360 discs--some level of graphical fidelity will have to be sacrificed. Carmack said a three-disc version is simply not cost effective in terms of materials and manufacturing expenses, which are compounded by a hefty disc fee levied by Microsoft.
By contrast, all of Rage's content will fit onto just one of the high-capacity Blu-ray discs used by the PlayStation 3. However, Carmack shut down many Sony loyalists' blooming braggadocio by saying that while the Blu-ray disc is clearly his preferred medium, the 360 is a superior piece of hardware for developers.
One can only wonder how much content Doom 4 will feature, considering it will apply "three times as much horsepower as Rage," according to Carmack. But while the game will curiously run at only 30 frames a second, Carmack's goal is to raise the bar for gaming visuals to something "no one has ever seen before." Doom 4 will be released, like all id titles, "when it's ready," and it currently has no publisher attached to it.
Unfortunately, tonight's QuakeCon event had some bad news for fans of its titular series. Carmack confirmed to the crowd that no proper Quake sequel is currently in the works. The last installments in the series were 2005's Quake 4 (PC, 360) and Enemy Territory: Quake wars, released for the PC in 2007 and for the Xbox 360 and PS3 this past May.
Another popular topic at QuakeCon 2008 was the recent news that Electronic Arts would publish Rage. The deal marked a departure for id, which had a long-standing exclusive partnership with Activision, which is still publishing the forthcoming Wolfenstein. Carmack said he shopped Rage to a number of publishers, including Sega and THQ, three different times at different stages of development. Id received several offers but decided to continue to self-fund Rage before inking a final deal. At a meeting with EA CEO John Riccitiello, the exec made several insightful "design level" comments about Rage, impressing Carmack. Soon after, id finalized a one-game publishing deal with EA to distribute and market Rage under its EA Partners program
After fielding several technical questions from the crowd and discussing his accident-plagued Armadillo Aerospace company, Carmack ended the QuakeCon keynote address to applause from adoring fans--at least those who managed to pry themselves away from the 24-hour-a-day LAN party on the show floor.