INTERVIEW: Tim Willits Part 1: Devs ‘stuck in a two-weapon mentality’

id Software recently had Tim Willits, creative director of RAGE, out in Sydney to host local media events. MCV Pacific spoke to Tim about RAGE, the future of games and more.

Why has id decided to move away from the macabre corridor-crawling action games it has been known for?

It was definitely a conscious decision for id to move away from that dark corridor setting. We didn’t want to follow the same formula.When you’re inside RAGE’s missions, they’re very classic id. But the technology allowed us to really move out of that and let our artists be artists.

How has id gone about creating a game with so many elements to it?

The world and the story are kind of patched together, there are lots of different things which work together which allowed us to do odd things like Mutant Bash TV, dead city and racing. If you look at all that stuff on paper, you’re like ‘what the heck?’, but it works because of the setting.

What is it that drives players to toy around with a toolbox for weapon creation? Is it creativity, functionality or a sense of exploration?

It’s two things. The first is that fruit just out of your reach. So you have something which is fun now, and then each area you go to you get something fun, so it pushes you forward and makes you play just a little longer to see what comes next.

Then it’s the functionality. What kind of cool stuff does it do? That’s why some of the crazy ammo types like the mine darts which blow people up and the pop rockets are over-the-top and fun, and provides that choice, variety and constant drive.

RAGE doesn’t rely too heavily on realism to carry its weight. How do you feel about remaining steadfast in creating more fantastical games while the top sellers are intense military shooters?

I think people tend to get stuck in this two-weapon modern combat shooter mentality, when players really just want to try their own thing. ‘Can I play through this whole area with a crossbow?’ ‘Can I use turrets to kill everybody?’ RAGE says to the player, ‘Sure, go ahead. Try it out.’

If you’re having fun by just making a whole lot of money to buy nothing but pop rockets and blowing people up, that’s good. It’s always a big fight with designers who’ll say ‘Well we can’t let people just do that’, and I’ll say ‘Is it fun?’, and if the answer is yes then we let them do it.

So far, people who’ve played through the game have come in at work and said ‘I played the whole game using nothing but the fat mammas, so we need to fix that.’ But then someone else will say they played through the whole game with the wingstick, and a third person will say they used the pop rockets.

And so I said ‘Ok, stop. We’ve actually succeeded.’

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