QuakeCon 2007: Rage First Look

id's Todd Hollenshead, Tim Willits, and John Carmack tell us about the famed developer's newly announced action/driving game.

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DALLAS, Texas--You know all about Doom and Quake. Now get ready for Rage. Famed programmer John Carmack announced id Software's newest game at QuakeCon 2007 in Dallas today, and it represents a departure of sorts from the company's traditional first-person shooters. Rage will have shooting action, but it will also feature racing and driving gameplay, along with adventure in a post-apocalyptic world that seems inspired by the classic action movie The Road Warrior. The game, which the public was given an early glimpse of during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June under the name id Tech 5, is being simultaneously developed by id for the PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

The name Rage was chosen for several reasons, and not just because it fits into id's tradition of giving its games terse, one-syllable names. The game is set after a comet destroys civilization, and your character, who Carmarck described as sort of a Buck Rogers-sort of man out of time, finds himself aiding settlements and villages in their battle against an oppressive regime. Hence, you will rage against the machine, and since the game also features vehicular action and combat, you can experience road rage. Last but not least, creative director Tim Willits and CEO Todd Hollenshead told us that you can't spell the word "garage" without "rage", and you will be able to have a garage full of vehicles that you customize in various ways.

Willits told us that the game will feature a mix of about 60-percent first-person shooting action and about 40-percent combat, though the game will also feature what Carmack calls "adventure elements" as well. It's the kind of game where Willits said that you can stop your vehicle at any time, get out, and explore. The size of the game's world will be positively huge. Carmack noted during his keynote that the game has about 80GB of uncompressed data, and even compressed it will fill up two full DVDs for the PC, Mac, and Xbox 360 versions, and one Blu-ray disc for the PS3 version. Another way to put it is that the two biggest levels in the game would fill up about 10,000 monitors each, he estimated.

Such worlds are possible thanks to id's new megatexturing technology, which is being introduced in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, the upcoming multiplayer action game that will release on October 2. However, as you'd expect, Rage's version of the technology will be much more evolved than in Quake Wars. For instance, it will have basically two megatexturing engines, one to handle the terrain and another to handle everything else in the game. Creating such a large amount of content would be daunting, however one of the advantages of the game's engine is that it was designed so that multiple artists can work on a single level simultaneously, and they can tweak the game's textures right up to the last minute without worry about breaking the game. That's because the textures have no impact on the game's performance or gameplay; an artist can add as many textures as he or she wishes and Rage will run as smoothly as before.

Carmack showed us the game running on all four platforms simultaneously, and said that each version of the game is essentially identical. The id Tech 5 engine is "platform agnostic" and no platform will have an advantage or disadvantage. He did note that id is developing Rage to be a T-rated game, a departure from the company's dark and Mature-rated titles. "We did make the decision that, 'Yeah, the game would probably be a little bit more fun with exploding bodies, but it won't kill us to keep it down at a T rating,'" he said.

Multiplayer also sounds interesting and a departure in some ways. id's games are known for their multiplayer gameplay, and Willits did confirm that Rage will feature some kind of cooperative gameplay that allows you to play missions with at least one other player. You won't be able to play the entire single-player game in co-op, though, due to its size. You will be able to play special co-op missions, though.

Rage is a departure for id in many ways. The one thing that we noticed about the game is that it's the first id game in a very long time to be drenched in sunlight. Carmack noted that the company could have done another corridor shooter. In fact, it almost did. After the completion of Doom 3 in 2004, Carmack went to work on a new game, codenamed "Darkness", that would have been an action horror shooting game on an island. However, after a year of development the team felt like the game wasn't coming together and decided to ditch it for a new concept. That concept became Rage.

QuakeCon was just the revealing of Rage. It still has plenty of more development to get through, and when asked when it would be finished Hollenshead, Carmarck, and Willits all just answered, "When it's done." There's still a lot more to be revealed of Rage, and we'll have all the details as they develop. For now, id is happy to reveal Rage, and the fact that it's taking a risky step with an entirely new franchise that's unlike anything that the famed developer has done before.

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