Train2Game attended Gamescom from 17th August to 21st August. During our time in Cologne we were fortunate enough to speak to get hands on time with RAGE and speak to Creative Director Tim Willits.
During our interview he discussed the ideas, design and development process behind RAGE. Willits also reveals how he got into the industry through modding, and suggests Train2Game students should do the same if they want to follow in his footsteps.
Read the interview with RAGE Creative Director Tim Willits below, or listen to it on via Train2Game Radio.
First of all, can you tell us what your role involves?
It’s a job that changes a lot. As the Creative Director you come up with the game, work on the story, plot, missions, basically design it. Then as production goes along you make sure ever body is marching to the same drummer, making sure the designers, programmers and artists are working together. Then at the end all the guys back at id are wrapping up bugs, fixing things, and then I have a chance to come and talk about the game.
So, during the evolution of a game, my job definitely changes a lot. Most times I’m just a cheerleader, I cheerlead for everybody. Go, team go!
Tell us about RAGE
You played it so you can probably say more about that! But one thing that’s nice about having guys like you play is your readers, they know I’m going to say it’s great, they want to hear what you guys have to say. And we’ve struggled with making sure people understand what the game is all about. There’s some people who think is it a combat racing game? Is it a first person shooter? I’m confused.
That’s why we set up these preview sessions where journalists come in, they play for a few hours then they have a better sense of what the game is. I like to call it the complete first person experience because there’s not this four hour, cookie cutter, run and gun game, and you do spend the first two hours kind of just learning. All the missions in the first two hours or so really lead the player along, and then once you get to Wellspring it opens up and you can do all sorts of different activities.
So, player choice is important, brand new technology, it looks good, plays well and again, I call it the complete first person experience.
How difficult is it in the development process to bring everything together? The shooting, the driving, storytelling and put it all into one package that is RAGE?
It’s actually quite difficult to be honest with you, it’s very tricky but I think we’ve got a good balance. For instance we don’t knock you over the head with the racing – you’re only required to do two races in the game but we have 25 or so that you can do that are totally optional. The thing about the ammo types and the engineering items it’s really cool, it’s based on how you like to play and the mission that you have to complete.
I’ve seen people play it all sorts of different ways. Some people like using the pistol, some people like engineering items, some people like using a sniper rifle for every mission or they try. So it’s really cool that you are not going to play RAGE the same way that your buddy plays. You’ll have the same mission but you’ll play it differently.
You were talking about the Wing Stick; a lot of people never do that and they play half the game and are never going to learn about the Wing Sticks. So it’s kind of cool where you have those opportunities and those choices.
How do you go about designing the levels in such a way that they can be completed but in so many different ways?
It all comes back to A.I. In a lot of modern games these days you have one gun and you find that you’ve got to drop one to pick one up. The designers, they know exactly what players will have so they design their A.I. for that.
But for RAGE what we try to do is make all the A.I. aware of things. So for instance, that ghost hideout that you played, if you had a turret – if you cheated and gave yourself a turret – and you dropped it, they would know about it. And they would react to it they would talk about it, they would try to kick it over. So we really had to focus on making the A.I. aware of what you have, what you’re using and their surroundings, and that was key to really make this more believable.
What was the process behind coming up with the distinctive art and animation style of RAGE?
I get that question a lot, or ‘what was your influence for RAGE?’ I try to keep the RAGE team very flat, so that gives everyone an opportunity to give creative input into the process. It’s not really like a pyramid so…even me, I came up with the game idea and the concepts but I wasn’t the driving factor in the overall visual look or anything.
It’s really a combination of all the guys on the team and their own inspirations and their own influences that they bring to the project. But obviously there are things you can see that we are big fans of like Mad Max and those road warrior moves and our past games.
Like when you’re in these hideouts chasing bandits and have a shotgun in your hand you can totally feel Doom and Quake and Wolfenstein, so for us maintaining that ID Software spirit has been the element that drives the overall experience of RAGE.
How did you get into the games industry?
Long ago! I was one of the original modders, and I was working on Doom I and Doom II levels. The company needed a level designer so I worked for it as a contractor and I made two maps for the Doom II Master Edition. After that there was a project called Strife – which no one has ever heard of! – so I was a Level Designer on Strife and worked at ID Studios after that. But making level mods, that’s how I got my start.
How important do you think modding is to someone looking to get into the games industry, and what other advice would you give them?
Modding is a great way to get into the industry. Most of the key guys at ID come from the mod community – myself, Matt Hooper, Robert Duffy, Jan Paul Van Waveren – and we have numbers of other guys.
What I suggest to people who want to get in the industry is find their favourite engine – Unreal, Source, it doesn’t matter, id tech – find whatever engine they like, what games they like to play, get the mod tools and make a mod. And make sure they complete it! Lots of times we have people who send resumes’ in with 20 half completed mods; we don’t want that, we want a handful of one’s that are actually done, and that’s really important.
Another way is the schools with programmes dedicated to video games. We’ve had some great success finding students that have come out of these programmes and done really well at ID. But if you don’t have the money for that, or you have a great idea and natural talent, yeah making a mod is the best way into the industry.
RAGE from id Software is released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 7th October 2011.
This interview can also be found on the T2G Blog here