John Carmack discusses RAGE on iPhone/iPad/iPod

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This month we’re privileged to share a special diary from the legendary John Carmack, technical director and co-founder of id Software. In addition to his current work on RAGE — coming to Xbox 360, Games for Windows, and PlayStation 3 on September 13, 2011 — and id Tech 5 technology, John has been working on an iPhone/iPad/iPod touch version of RAGE that will introduce gamers to the game’s story and world.

Round of applause for John Carmack…

RAGE for iPhone

Our mobile development efforts at id took some twists and turns in the last year. The plan was always to do something RAGE-related on the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch next, but with all the big things going on at id, the mobile efforts weren’t front and center on the priority list. There had been a bit of background work going on, but it was only towards the end of July that I was able to sit down and write the core engine code that would drive the project.

I was excited about how well it turned out, and since this was right before QuakeCon, I broke with tradition and did a live technology demo during my keynote. In hindsight, I probably introduced it poorly. I said something like “Its RAGE. On the iPhone. At 60 frames a second.”  Some people took that to mean that the entire PC/console game experience was going to be on the iPhone, which is definitely not the case.

What I showed was a technology demo, written from scratch, but using the RAGE content creation pipeline and media. We do not have the full RAGE game running on iOS, and we do not plan to try. While it would (amazingly!) actually be possible to compile the full-blown PC/console RAGE game for an iPhone4 with some effort, it would be a hopelessly bad idea. Even the latest and greatest mobile devices are still a fraction of the power of a 360 or PS3, let alone a high end gaming PC, so none of the carefully made performance tradeoffs would be appropriate for the platform, to say nothing of the vast differences in controls.

What we do have is something unlike anything ever seen on the iOS platforms. It is glorious, and a lot of fun. Development has been proceeding at high intensity since QuakeCon, and we hope to have the app out by the end of November.

The technical decision to use our megatexture content creation pipeline for the game levels had consequences for its scope. The data required for the game is big. Really, really big. Seeing Myst do well on the iPhone with a 700 meg download gave me some confidence that users would still download huge apps, and that became the target size for our standard definition version, but the high definition version for iPad / iPhone 4 will be around twice that size. This is more like getting a movie than an app, so be prepared for a long download. Still, for perspective, the full scale RAGE game is around 20 gigs of data with JPEG-XR compression, so 0.7 gigs of non-transcoded data is obviously a tiny slice of it.

Since we weren’t going to be able to have lots of hugely expansive levels, we knew that there would be some disappointment if we went out at a high price point, no matter how good it looked. We have experimented with a range of price points on the iPhone titles so far, but we had avoided the very low end. We decided that this would be a good opportunity to try a  $0.99 SD / $1.99 HD price point.  We need to stay focused on not letting the project creep out of control, but I think people will be very happy with the value.

The little slice of RAGE that we decided to build the iPhone product around is “Mutant Bash TV”, a post apocalyptic combat game show in the RAGE wasteland. This is the perfect setup for a quintessential first person shooter game play experience — you pick your targets, aim your shots, time your reloads, dodge the bad guys, and try and make it through to the end of the level with a better score than last time. Beyond basic survival, there are pickups, head shots, and hit streak multipliers to add more options to the gameplay, and there is a broad range of skill levels available from keep-hitting-fire-and-you-should-make-it to almost-impossible.

A large goal of the project has been to make sure that the levels can be replayed many times. The key is making the gamplay itself the rewarding aspect, rather than story progression, character development, or any kind of surprises. Many of the elements that made Doom Resurrection good the first time you played it hurt the replayability, for instance. RAGE iOS is all action, all the time. I have played the game dozens of times, and testing it is still fun instead of a chore.

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id files brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA & ESA case

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Earlier in the month we explained why you should consider signing The Gamer Petition, a grassroots campaign to mobilize the gaming community in the run-up to Schwarzenegger v. ESA and EMA. Set for oral argument in November, this landmark United States Supreme Court case will determine whether video games should continue to enjoy protection as free speech like any other respectable art form.

But gamers aren’t the only ones speaking up. Today our friends over at id Software have equipped their own legal BFGs, firing off a “friend of the court” brief for the Supreme Court justices to consider. The brief boils down to an argument for why video games should not be thought of as any different than films, novels or other artistic media.

In the argument, Homer’s “The Iliad” is used as a basis for explaining why video games “have the same claim to constitutional protection as traditional forms of art.” The brief further argues that video games’ distinctive characteristics should not exclude them from First Amendment protection.

Citing scads of legal precedents, it’s a pretty interesting read as a bystander, and hopefully something the Court will consider helpful to its deliberations. But as LeVar would say, you don’t have to take my word for it — read the full brief here. And for more information on the case, head to the Entertainment Software Association’s dedicated page.

Special Promotion for QUAKE LIVE starts today

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Earlier today, we let folks know about some special deals on QUAKE LIVE. Read the details below…

We’re pleased to announce that starting today, anyone who signs up for QUAKE LIVE can experience the Premium subscription membership benefits for FREE until next Sunday, September 26th.

Additionally, anyone who purchases a Premium or Pro membership for QUAKE LIVE during this promotion will receive the added bonus of one additional month of membership access!

If you purchase a membership during this promotional period, you will have the option to redeem this one month token to extend your membership or gift it to a friend.

More details after the break…

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Join the Team!

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Today we’re pleased to announce a new website dedicated to finding jobs within the ZeniMax family. Visit jobs.bethsoft.com to find openings at ZeniMax (Rockville, MD), ZeniMax Online Studios (Hunt Valley, MD), id Software (Dallas, TX), Bethesda Game Studios (Rockville, MD), and newly-aquired Arkane Studios (with offices in both Lyon, France and Austin, TX). For each studio, we’ve got information on the latest job openings — including details on the responsibilities and requirements for each position.

For more details on applying, head here.

IGDA: Hangin’ with Mr. Hooper

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Later this month, id Software’s design director, Matt Hooper, will be presenting to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in Montreal. Details on his presentation, “Controlled RAGE: Production, Design, and Tech Challenges of Revolutionizing the FPS,” can be found below:

As in industry pioneer, id Software has been pushing the boundaries of the FPS genre since its inception. With RAGE and Tech5, id is revolutionizing the modern FPS, rethinking the player experience and facing the production and technological challenges that go along with it. Matt Hooper, id’s Design Director, will walk us through a demo of RAGE and discuss key aspects of the game’s development.

For more details on the presentation, head to IDGA’s official site.

QuakeCon: Panel Coverage at Gamespot

Didn’t have a chance to see the panels and presentations at QuakeCon 2010? No worries — the fine folks at Gamespot have recaps (and some video) for you to catch up on.

One of my personal highlights of the show was attending Rocket Talk — featuring legends Richard “Lord British” Garriott and John Carmack talking about their passion for space exploration. For a summary of the talk, head here. Be sure to watch Garriott’s presentation on his journey to the International Space Station (embedded above) — it’s really amazing stuff.

Gamespot also has a sample of John Carmack’s presentation on Armadillo Aerospace. Check the highlights below….

Hit the jump for links to Gamespot’s coverage of QuakeCon’s panels…

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id introduces two QUAKE LIVE subscription packages

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After being down for a day, QUAKE LIVE players missing their online fragging fix can return to action later today — as the game has officially exited beta! In addition to the ‘Standard’ free-to-play version, in a press release today, we’ve announced ‘Premium’ and ‘Pro’ subscriptions — adding new maps, game modes, and plenty more. Details below…

The Premium Subscription, which can be purchased for $1.99 per month, billed annually, includes:

  • Access to 20 QUAKE LIVE Premium only maps at launch with more to come.  Premium maps are a combination of brand new maps and frequently requested community favorites from previous QUAKE games such as Aerowalk, Theater of Pain, Japanese Castles, and Realm of Steel Rats;
  • An all new ‘Freeze Tag’ game mode;
  • Exclusive premium level awards;
  • Create your own clan and join up to five separate clans;
  • Custom QUAKE LIVE profile wallpaper; and
  • Match statistics stored for six months.

The Pro Subscription, which can be purchased for $3.99 per month, billed annually, includes all of the premium subscription features as well as:

  • The ability to start your own game server, specify a server location, determine the game mode and invite who you want to join you;
  • With the Pro Subscription, you can invite three friends with Standard level memberships to play with you in any Premium level map;
  • Exclusive pro awards;
  • Create your own clan and join up to ten separate clans; and
  • Match statistics stored for 12 months.

The QUAKE LIVE ‘Standard’ version is still free to play and includes friend lists, access to one clan, matchmaking, and stats tracking delivered through a web browser with over 40 arenas and five game modes.

To create a QUAKE LIVE account and for more information please visit: http://www.quakelive.com.

UPDATE: QUAKE LIVE is back up and running. The team will continue to monitor the situation… now get back to the action!

GameTrailers names RAGE “Game of the Show”

Not to be outdone by the Game Critics Awards, GameTrailers’ own “Best of E3 2010″ series has bestowed six more honors on RAGE, including “Best Game of Show” (as seen above).

In addition to the top honors vid, you can also check out the clips for RAGE’s wins in the “Best First-Person Shooter,” “Best New IP,” “Best PC Game,” “Best Playstation 3 Game” and “Best Xbox 360 Game” categories on GameTrailers.

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