This is a man who has been pushing the boundaries of realtime graphics since Wolfenstein3D. We owe him a lot, and I think he has earned the right to work on whatever project he damn well chooses. People seem to imagine all the amazing things he could have done with his time while glossing over the amazing things he has done right here, right now.
No, Rage is not the panacea of interactive entertainment. It is, however, a stunning showcase of some amazing new technologies in the form of a fairly conventional shooter. It is what it is, don't like it, don't buy it.
Nowdays, anytime an id game is mentioned you can't help but be overwhelmed by the "id games are teh suck!" noise. Fine. Don't buy them. But concocting some conspiracy about Carmack being held hostage by the artists or whatever is just nonsense.
He has a team of artists who help realise the (visual) potential of the awesome new tech he has developed. The gameplay itself comes second. Heresy, I know, but this has been the pattern for a number of releases and if the id team are happy with that then more power to them.
No gun to anyones head.
What it really comes down to is that id games are basically showcases for their latest engine tech. The licensing income from the engines (which they call idTech if I recall) probably overshadows the games within a year of release.
Still being licensed, just with less demand, and with the new restriction that games developed with id Tech have to be published through Bethesda Softworks. id Tech 4 is due for a GPL source code release sometime in the next few months.
All existing licenses they probably have to continue supporting because of the contracts that were signed before they were bought by Bethesda.
- They signed a contract with Interplay, allowing the original creators of Fallout to make an MMO based on the Fallout franchise. As soon as the deal was inked, Bethesda regretted it and proceeded to do everything they could to delay the game's release. Then they cited the fact that Interplay promised to have the game finished by a certain date and used this as a basis for suing them.
- They tried to claim in court that the original creators of Fallout entered into a licensing agreement with the new owners not to make a game based on Fallout, but a completely different game having nothing to do with the franchise that just so happens to use the exact same name.
- As stated above, they are not allowing Id software to license their engine to anyone that doesn't publish their game through Bethesda. This is idiotic because as I stated above, the only thing that Id software is known for these days is for creating awesome 3d engines. Their games just aren't as good as they used to be.
- They are trying to claim that any games using the words "elder", or "scrolls" are deliberate violations of their intellectual property rights. Notch's game "scrolls" isn't even a competitor to anything Bethesda is working on, yet they are trying to sue a small developer out of existence.
- They claim that their game "The Elder Scrolls" is commonly known by it's fan base as "scrolls." This is a load of crap and I'm pretty sure that practically no one is referring to any of their games as "scrolls." The PC community commonly refers to the franchise as TES (The Elder Scrolls) and if they ever refer to it as anything else, it is normally by the episode's name (Daggerfall, Skyrim, etc.)
Disclaimer: I don't play Minecraft and I could care less about Scrolls. I just dislike it when software companies adopt selfish, cowardly practices in order to stifle innovation.
The counter to that would be that if you hadn't noticed this pattern by now with recent id games you haven't been paying attention.
To say that id's releases are more tech demos than games is one thing. To come up with harebrained theories as to why this is the case is another.
Keen was possible due to a stroke of genius, letting him trick the monitor itself into becoming part of his "adaptive tile refresh" system. I'm a little hazy on the details, but... it's just a cool, little-known fact that Carmack made the very first "Mario-style" side scroller for the PC -- a feat that no one else managed to pull off.
It's easy to forget how crap PC graphics were at the time of Commander Keen. It was the first PC platform game I can remember that wasn't an obviously-CGA sprite flickerathon :)
Some of the most critically acclaimed games, as well as highest selling games, have stories.
For example: Grand Theft Auto 3. Final Fantasy VII.
Ico. Metal Gear Solid. Arkham Asylum. Mass Effect. Dragon Age. Dark Souls. Demon Souls. Starcraft. Starcraft II.
Modern Warfare. World of Warcraft.
Do you know what else made these games stand out? Art direction.
Give me a break.
He's not saying games don't have stories, of course they do, he's saying that some game designers get distracted from making good mechanics, which I agree, is a huge mistake. Mechanics is the core of the medium, and shouldn't be put second on the list.
Valve gets that. Their attention and talent put into storytelling and art direction is top-notch, yet that has never distracted them from making sure their mechanics are excellent.
what exactly are you talking about? myst has significant game mechanics. all games have game mechanics.
But if anyone can do it, Carmack can. (and that was an assumption, but oh well).
Grand Theft Auto 3? The grand-daddy of open-world gameplay? It even gave birth to an entire genre of clones.
World of Warcraft? Didn't invent a new style of play? They took Evercrack and distilled it into pure, fine weapons-grade MMORPGing!
Metal Gear Solid? Didn't have an incredibly unique (and much cloned, and much parodied) style of play? Whose story and art direction is so famous that today we have people running around conventions with big exclamation marks over their heads?
Ditto Mass Effect - whose conversational mechanics practically redefined how all games do it today?
Arkham Asylum? Whose unprecedented combination of unique art style, stealth mechanics, pitch-perfect voice acting, investigative gameplay, and open-world format was widely lauded by both players and critics?
Oh yeah, those games. I'm sure the stories were not at all core to the games' success. It's all the mechanics, I'm sure.
Yes there is a story in it, but that's not the part where it pushes boundaries.
>There is a Swedish saying that goes something like "Give the bear honey, and it will take you entire arm off".
I love this idiom. It feels much nicer than "Give them an inch and they'll take a yard / mile"
2. He left a huge void in the world of FPS gaming. The "best" FPS games today (Battlefield 3, Call of Duty) are graphically beautiful, watered down, crap for console gamers. Their actual game play sucks.
Quake1 Netquake Deathmatch/CTF/Clan Arena/Rocket Arena is still more intense and more a test of skill than any other game to follow in the ~13 years since it was created.
Creating a modern replacement (for no other reason really than fixing a few minor issues and bringing in new players) is on my list of Things To Do.
Then why don't you?
No, really, why don't you? Right now.
These are the (free) tools that I used to build something very close to Quake. If a dummy like me can, then so can you.
And if it's your fantasy, then you owe it to yourself to make it your reality. Go achieve what I didn't.
I think you're more capable than you give yourself credit for.
I'd rather strike out a dozen times than watch from the stands.
To avoid getting down voted here are what I would call modern, or at least more comprehensive versions of those links.
If you really want to role your own engine then...
Although a handful of links can't sum up the amount of work, knowledge and tech required to build something resembling a modern 3D game engine.
but as you said it's sad that theres no true "hardcore" fps on the horizon :-/
Competitive FPS gaming reached a peak around 1998. Since then, the only games I've heard of with similar high-level competition have been in the RTS genre. "Watered down" seems to be the name of the game nowadays.
"Many games designers think its their job to tell stories, but games isn't a story medium, they should go write books or make films."
Have you heard of Sierra? King's Quest?
Or maybe Legend of Kyrandia?
Or in the FPS genre, Half Life? Or the Deus Ex trilogy?
These are all games in which the story has stayed with me much longer than the game mechanics.
tl;dr Make fun games, not pretty ones.
The problem is that it is never obvious when mechanics make a game great, and when art direction does. See Bioshock for the latter. See something like Everquest for the former (and which was later eclipsed by a game with better mechanics AND art direction). Great games are rare. You need both of the above, and more.
English is not the author's primary language.
As an amateur game designer, this sentence hits home like none other. This is the embodiment of the fine line between a short-lived game and one that will stay in history books. Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D had it for me. Starcraft, Super Mario Bros or Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo had it for others. When you enjoy every single second and wish you could do it again the minute after, then you know you have a true immortal game in front of you.
One of my prominent design patterns when I try to work on games is to focus on very elementary satisfaction and a promess that doing it once more will still make the player smile. On FPS games for example, a cool and straightforward way to achieve that is to design levels so that they would work in all of single player, cooperative and deathmatch modes. Unfortunately, such good practices were lost in translation when we entered the third millenium and the era of in-game cinematics.
Thus for long he was the fist to come up with games that demonstrated the full capabilities of new hardwares. This formula worked until around mid 2000s when suddenly processors weren't getting the yearly speed boost as usual. Doom3 was it's first casualty. It was designed for a hardware that never appeared in market. Game designers had to trim down on-screen characters to make the game playable and released it late.
And rest is what we see now. That's my understanding of the situation.
The megatexture tech is a clever use of 'clipmaps' or virtual mipmaps and runs on current-gen hardware. They are currently looking at a sparse voxel octree technique to create a megatexture-like (theoretically)infinite LOD system for geometry. This is also intended to be used on current (or near future) hardware.
A lot of the graphics techniques used by id aren't invented by Carmack, his genius is making them run in realtime on consumer computers. And yes it can be a guessing game :)
You may think that looking at the gameplay demo that the game was simply recorded at low resolution but that is not the case. Bump the video to 720p and full screen then that is actually what it looked like at the time. Not sure if it has changed since the last time I played.
In the as-close-to-an-id-biography-as-you'll-get Masters of Doom, Carmack's preference for avoiding story and focusing on industry-busting gameplay and technology is stressed many times, yet something does seem to have changed in this regard since Doom 3. In terms of blowing the competition's efforts away, Rage isn't a Doom, Quake, Commander Keen or even a Quake 2.
Edit: Good snippet from the Ars review:
> The sense that gamers are being trolled extends to many of the missions. Some of them go so far as to force you to drive to a location, hit a button, and then drive back to tell someone you hit a button.
"If you've seen me I've been spending a lot of time over there [at the demo stations] just watching people playing, generally with a big old grin on my face.
"We had so much that we set out to do on this that was different than what we had done before. Id had been almost a stereotype of what you do - first person shooter, run and gun, corridors, monsters jumping out at you, this type of thing. We invented this genre and we followed it for a long ways, but people thought that was all that we were doing.
"And with Rage we set out to be really pretty ambitious, to do a lot of things that we had never done before, and in hindsight knowing that it took six years, we would look back and say, 'Maybe we shouldn't have been quite as ambitious, maybe we should have done a few more of the things we had plenty of experience doing,' but in the end everybody gets the benefit of... we picked hard battles, we fought all of them, and in the end we did a really damn good job on it.
"It really is probably the most enjoyable id game, from my perspective, that we've ever made. I've played all of our games to degrees, but I was never one of the people who could spend eight hours deathmatching. I know there's a lot of you out there, but that was never kind of my take on our games.
"The pacing on Rage allows us to go ahead and have a game where you have moments of abject terror and intensity, and it's nicely balanced by the areas where you're going through, you're exploring, you're talking in town and doing these things. And we learned a lot through this process. By no means are we ready to be stood up next to Skyrim or something as an adventure game -- that's not what we're doing -- but it is clear at this point that there are beneficial things we can add to the gameplay experience, where we take everything that was fun and good about classic id games, and you can do these other things that add additional layers to it, that don't take anything away."
(Watch the keynote at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zgYG-_ha28 )
Carmack's take on his own game seems to be a very very far cry from the parent article's "blame the artists!" whinging. It sounds from what he says about his own take on the game, and probably more importantly from how genuinely excited he seems up on stage, that Rage's mixing up the tried and true id gameplay formula was, personally for him, an exhilarating breath of fresh air.
That's... Well, that's ironic. I wonder why he decided to pursue gamedev with more passion than rocketdev?
I agree. Doom3 didn't start with a gun in your hand. It's DOOM, for hell's sake, you gotta have a piece in your hand, right from the git-go.
The article goes to a very wrong direction when he starts blaming artists for the decline of FPS games.
Sure, some abstract painting is great. Tetris is as well. But that's not the norm.
As for Carmack, we all know he's the tech guy and great at it. What's important is how the tools he creates are used. I've not played Rage yet, but I hear it's mediocre. I'm not brokenhearted over that.
What does hit me though, is QuakeLive.com's irrelevance in id's/Bethesda's planning. I'd love to see them first add a second game with worthwhile teamplay to compete with Team Fortress 2 (which is something id/B should've been ahead of.)
Secondly they need to provide a strong modding API and let players rent servers to host their mods on, and even let players run ads or charge for access if they want. Become the platform.
Finally, since I now realize I'm just writing a long id wishlist, I want the original team back for one more romp... I want them to be leads for Bethesda in relaunching Quake. Only this time, do it as an open world FPSRPG a la Fallout/Morrowind. Base it off of the old pen and paper rpg sessions that they all used to play that Carmack DMed, and Romero destroyed when he took the Diakatana from a demon. (All wonderfully discussed in the Masters of Doom book.)
... God this post got a little crazy.
He also didn't design the id games of the first half of the 90s. John Romero was the driving force behind those game-mechanics. Romero was the one who decided that Doom and Wolfenstein had to be all about speed, and everything that slowed the games down had to be cut out.
Romero left id after Quake, because of conflicting design visions for the game.
The magic happened when Romero and Carmack were building games together.
I mostly agree with you. Quake II was a decent game, but it didn't leave a lasting impression. The original quake was the last single player Id game that mattered.
I think Id was able to recreate the magic for Q3A though. When it released it wasn't considered phenomenal, but now that I look back over the years, it is one of the top 3 shooters of all time.
I think Id could be great again if they got together with some of the designers from fallout or the elder scrolls. Some cross training would be beneficial to both parties. The character animation in Bethesda's games are terrible; Id software can't write a decent story.
Here's an interview with him talking about iPhone developmenet:
Couldn't be more wrong. In fact, lack of compelling story is one of the things that's wrong with gaming today.
Yes, back then graphics and gameplays were carefully designed in consideration of the 3D engine limits (eg. doom and its raycaster, or outcast and its voxel-like engine). Today the polygon-based rendering seems to be the only viable technology (and it is hardware accelerated). I believe it's taking away all games' originality.
Anyhow, games are merely products. They have a target audience and are generally designed to appeal to that segment. For many, being immersed in a virtual [believable] world, holds high value when trying to wind down from stress.
For someone like the OP, I'd suggest checking out a game like Demon's Souls or Dark Souls. These are very lite on story, but heavy on game play. Be warned, the games are not easy. I think Demon's souls took me close to a year to finish with an hour or two here and there.
Obviously I don't know any internals of what happened post-acquisition but it's likely that John has a lot less control over the game shipping. More specifically, with a huge company behind him the likelihood is the artists etc will continue to have influence in a way that will perpetuate the OP's frustration.
I find this game visually very appealing and different, and it seems to me that the gameplay is quite unique, too.
id Software made id Tech 5. Bethesda was tasked with making a game on top of it that would be a well rounded showcase of the engines capabilities and a good game.
Before Bethesda was Raven, Nerve, Gray Matter Interactive, etc. I believe Quake III Arena was the last "pure id" game.