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Creative Minds: Todd Hollenshead

CEO Hollenshead and lead level designer Matt Hooper site down for a chat...

There's no doubt about it; id Software has been responsible for helping shape the games industry into what it is today. Without Doom, Quake and John Carmack's coding wizardry, you can bet we'd be playing very different games today. Who knows, the Russians might've even won the Cold War?

Doom has stuck in the minds of a generation of gamers, while Enemy Territory rocks the online charts and Quake III Arena is still played (mainly by us) after almost ten years on the shelves.

Meanwhile the next shooter from the FPS juggernaut, Rage, is exciting enough on its own. But behind the scenes the latest engine from coding super-brain John Carmack, id Tech 5, could flip current-gen game developer on its side.

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The team is developing Rage for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Mac simultaneously thanks to its latest engine, which works across all platforms using the same assets. If you're a developer (and tired of rubbish ports), you should be intrigued.

We sat down with id CEO Todd Hollenshead and lead level designer Matt Hooper to discuss the rise and rise of id.

What's a day's work like at id? We're imagining Quad Damage door bells and a flaming reception...

Hollenshead: Some days are better than others but almost every day is an interesting day. Some days we come into the office and check the video logs of the parking garage.

We see people fornicating in the forest, thinking there's no video cameras on the back of building, watching. Not id employees, just like people from the apartments across the fence from id.

Hooper: I think the biggest surprise for me when I joined was just how hard everybody works. We've changed a bit over the years but it's still a neat place to work and everybody has a lot of fun.

Hollenshead: I think you can still be who you are and do what you do, as long as you don't go on the internet and taunt other companies (laughs).

We tried to shut that down, there's nothing really positive that comes out of that. We can taunt each other though!

We're just a normal work. People come in, work, go have lunch, work a little more and then go home. Then if we're trying to get something done on Enemy Territory maybe we'll get in a little earlier and test that, have meetings, order lunch, curse Activision, curse insert-company-name-here...

Hooper: While we've been testing the cars in Rage we actually bought a trophy called the Rage Cup. We give people 24 hours to set the best time. Carmack's in there trying to get the best time, everybody's in there.

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Hollenshead: When you make something a competition you very quickly flush out what sucks about it. Of course if you're not winning everything sucks, but if you're in the middle of the pack and some physics oddity happens you're like, "god damn it programmers!"

So your latest engine id Tech 5 is designed to fit on all current-gen platforms simultaneously...

Hollenshead: Yeah. The artists just make art and the assets on PC, 360 and PS3 are the exact same assets, it's completely platform agnostic. Every triangle, every pixel is identical.

I don't know if we hold all the keys, because it's not designed to be a 'solve all problems for game developers' engine. But I think compared to id engines historically it has more elements in it.

There's indoor stuff and outdoor stuff, because Doom 3 had an amazing indoor renderer but it really wasn't that great on outdoors. Id Tech 5 has both solutions, a good physics model, all the AI and it runs on PS3, PC, Mac and 360.

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