Interview: id Software's Todd Hollenshead
We met id Software's CEO for an in-depth chat about Rage, the astonishing id Tech 5 engine and what it means to the games industry at large. Plus: comments on gaming for the Mac, Steam, Epic, Romero and what the future holds.
Kikizo: Would you say there were any weaknesses in Doom 3 that need to be corrected?
Matt: I wouldn't call them weaknesses. We had very specific goals in mind, and we had a relatively small team with brand new, state-of-the-art technology, and I think we took advantage of that really well. I think the sales show that. So design wise, because our focus was narrow, I don't have any regrets there.
Todd: I think there are three people on the internet that keep making these posts that Doom 3 was "bad", and they get no credibility from any other people... there's some mass-misperception out there. I get this occasionally - why don't I think Doom 3 was successful? We sold over three million units! It's the most successful game in id's history.
Matt: The things we're doing with id Tech 5 have really opened things up design-wise. I work closely with Tim Willits who's the creative director on id Tech 5 and the guiding force on Rage, and we're going to do some things which I think are just going to blow people way - it's just going to be on a whole new level. Things that you have never seen in any game before, some things borrowed from different games, really action focused. Just as a designer we can do things in these giant worlds and with these vehicle systems and still maintain the things that people love id for, which is that control and the FPS action combat, but now we can introduce all these other elements, so it's really opened things up. On the design side, we've never had more energy, it just makes us giddy to be able to use this tech.
Kikizo: When we last spoke to Gabe Newell, one of the interesting things we discussed was the Mac. His view is that the people in charge of games at Apple change jobs every couple years and that there's no consistency or they don't take it seriously enough. But here we see you have this running perfectly on Mac. Would you agree with his comments on Apple gaming?
Todd: It's a true comment. I think historically, Gabe is absolutely right. The Apple guys will probably frown to hear me say that, but I mean there are facts and there are facts [laughs], and the fact is, that over the years Apple has shown an interest in gaming and then not followed through on it. Certainly our hope is that they are going to follow through. I do think they have made a significant investment... Jobs had a limited amount of time [at his WWDC 07 keynote] and John Carmack isn't the kind of guy who's going to get up on stage just to try and please Steve Jobs. John has his own ideas and he's his own guy, and even the persona of Steve Jobs isn't going to work on John very well, if at all! But if Steve had games on his show; not only did he give time to id, he gave time to EA, and I do think that it demonstrates at least a commitment at a high level to sharing the platform's face, if you will, with games.
But I mean, it is about the follow up. Now Apple was great to work with us; we were in some dialogue and they asked what we thought of having it on Mac, they sent some engineers down and they made a commitment about drivers and how they were going to support this stuff in the future, and I certainly hope they follow through on it, because with the hardware now, you're not having to deal with this weird Power PC architecture; they have Intel chips and all that stuff, and it does make it a whole lot easier for us to work with it. I don't think that they're hamstrung at a performance level - they don't have to create these weird Apple-only benchmarks.