id Software's new Tech 5 engine is changing the way the company's team works -- perhaps permanently. And the studio's design director Matt Hooper tells us that these evolutions could spread out to the wider industry before long, if current trends are as he sees them.
"Even with Doom
, we've always done this -- disruptive technology," Hooper explains in a comprehensive new Gamasutra feature interview
. "It's technology that comes in and completely changes the way you build and make games... every new iteration of the [id] tech, especially when it's so fundamentally different, turns everything on its head, [in terms of] the way the artists have to work."
"We found that some people are better at [our new art processes]," he continues. "Some people who might not fit as an artist on Doom 3
now have a tremendous worth on fine-tuning different environments," he continues. "It's turned us on our head."
So even though methodology had to be effectively re-learned with the new technology, according to Hooper, "that's what pre-production is for. Now we kind of know what we're doing, and we have a method for getting it done."
Evolving tech means more and different contributions from traditional artists, for example -- "it's becoming slightly less technical," Hooper says. But it's not a contained evolution; it influences the very design of the game, a sprawling post-apocalyptic landscape, in contrast to the indoor environments of the team's last game, Doom 3
"[John Carmack] was taking satellite photographs, almost like how Google Earth works now, which wasn't even there at the time," Hooper says. "For the idea of streaming in textures, he used that as a proving ground. He got a bunch of different satellite images, and as you moved around, it would stream in what it needed. Now, what with Google Earth, you think, 'Well, yeah, I know exactly what that is.' But at the time, that didn't exist. "
He continues: "That then inspired the design side for Tim [Willits], who set out the initial top level design. He said, 'Okay, we need a world that's big, and this is what the tech does. Let's open up the environments. We've never done that before. It will fit with the new property.' That was really a back and forth."
The full feature, live now on Gamasutra
, goes into Rage
's design and technical choices in much more depth.