QuakeCon 07: id Rage-ing on PC, Mac, 360, PS3

Doom-maker crafting all-new driving-shooting actioner set in open-world, postapocalyptic wasteland.

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In June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), id Software cofounder and chief technical officer John Carmack took the stage alongside Apple CEO Steve Jobs to show off a technology demo. Cryptically titled "id Tech 5," the clip showed a scene reminiscent of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Dune buggies raced through a canyon dotted by what looked like postapocalyptic settlements, and then the camera zoomed inside a hut for a first-person conversation with a merchant straight out of Bartertown.

At the WWDC, Carmack promised to have the same demo--which features over 20GB of texture information--running in real time on the PC, Macintosh, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 at the E3 Media & Business Summit in July. However, by the time the scaled-down expo was done, there was no sign of the demonstration anywhere.

Today, though, id Tech 5 surfaced. Behind closed doors at QuakeCon 2007 in Dallas, id CEO Todd Hollenshead revealed that the demo was actually the first look at Rage, an all-new IP. As mentioned at WWDC, the game is in simultaneous development for the PC, Mac, PS3, and 360, and will use the second generation of id's "MegaTexture" technology. The game will be come on a single Blu-ray Disc for PS3 owners, while all other versions will require two DVDs.

Speaking to a small collection of game journalists, Hollenshead explained that Rage was a deliberate departure from the corridor shooters that made id famous. Its gameplay will be "60 percent shooting and 40 percent driving" between villages in a postapocalyptic wasteland. Its setting will be a far future that has seen civilization decimated after a comet smashes into the Earth. Players will aid the villages' inhabitants in fighting both an oppressive regime and various mutants and monsters roaming the wasteland.

According to Rage lead designer Tim Willits, the game's title has a threefold meaning. "You're fighting against a postapocalyptic government, so you're raging against the machine," he said. "Then there's driving combat, so there's road rage." Willits also said that "you can't spell garage without 'rage,'" and then revealed the game will have shops where players can extensively customize their vehicles.

Rage will have open-world elements, allowing players to exit their vehicles and explore caves and other parts of the landscape. The game will feature a single-player campaign that will clock in around 20 hours, but will allow individual missions to be played in co-op mode. No other multiplayer details were announced.

In another major departure from the infamously gory Doom and Quake games, id is developing Rage with a T-for-Teen rating in mind. As with all games from the famously reclusive studio, it will ship "when it's done."

During a presentation at the QuakeCon keynote, Carmack quashed hopes of a Wii version of the game, saying that the id Tech 5 engine could not be ported to Nintendo's latest system. Nintendo fans needn't be too crestfallen, however, as Carmack told reporters earlier in the day he'd be happy to make Wii games, and has toyed with the idea of making a Quake Arena-themed game for the DS. There's nothing official about such a project yet, but Carmack said he likes the machine's Wi-Fi and game-sharing capabilities.

Carmack also described his "inverted" approach to developing new intellectual properties to reporters, saying id started Orcs and Elves on a cell phone, and then moved it up to the DS. If it works there, Carmack said he'd like to bring it to the Wii as well. Such an approach to building new properties makes sense, Carmack said, because the initial investment put at risk is much smaller.

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