Kevin Cloud started at id Software in 1992 as an artist. Now he’s a co-owner, having worked on almost every game id’s ever made.
Here are the bits of our conversation that didn’t fit into the feature interview.
On independent games: “When I look at the types of games that are popping up all over the place – from cell phone games to online games over the internet – there’s tons of possibilities; small companies coming up with a cool idea and getting it to the market really fast. I think from that perspective you can probably be more successful [now] than ever before. Even our most successful titles in shareware weren’t real, successful compared to retail titles.
“It’s definitely a different type pf thing than making these 3 and 4 year titles. So I think a team of guys can get out there and make one of these browser games or one of these smaller games for a handheld and really get themselves started, just like id did. I don’t see any reason why you can’t do that today any different than we did it back in the 90s.”
On Enemy Territory: Quake Wars: Enemy Territory … really evolved from Return to Castle Wolfenstein multiplayer, which was very successful and got some nice awards and people played it for a long time. That gameplay was focused on teamwork. The goal was to create character classes based around the way people like to play.
Some people are really good at shooting and some people are better at strategy and some people just want to get in and have fun. They may not be the best shot, but they still want to have fun. I wanted to create a game in which people are all working towards this common goal. When you’re in a map, you’re not spreading yourself out, you’re working together as a team.
In terms of some of the design elements, al lot of them just came from the things that we wanted to do in Wolfenstein, but couldn’t because the technology couldn’t support it or because the design itself wouldn’t support it.[For example], in Wolfenstein, you have a tank, but the tank is basically on a path. We were dying that whole game development to make the tank not on a path so that we could drive it around. When we looked at what the character classes could do, we had the field ops that could drop air strikes. We thought … it would be cool if we could drop in real artillery … adding in some more strategy elements into the game. So that’s where the elements came from, and it was a smooth continuation for one game to the next.
On id’s audience: Our focus still remains on action games. With Orcs and Elves or some of our cell phone games, I think our audience may shift. … I think with Wolfenstein we might get a slightly different audience than with quake Wars, but as far as our main focus, we’re focused on action games, and the people that are attracted to those types of games are what we’re going to get.
When I look at our next technology and what the potential for that is … we wanted to make something with great tools in it to make it easier to get great ideas in the game. We wanted something that was a multi-platform solution … right out of the box. The unique texturing solution that John’s come up with is a nice scalable solution, so the artists don’t have to worry about whether or not they’re working on a PS3 or 360 or PC – it all just works.
We’re looking at ourselves today, where id, say 6 years ago or more, was primarily a PC developer, I’d say today we are straight down the path of being a multi-platform developer. We’re going to develop one game that works great for all players on all platforms. I think that’s gonna expand our audience or make it a little bit different, but I think in terms of the types of games we’re going to deliver, we’re focused on delivering great, in your face, fun, visceral action shooters. That’s what we do.
Next page: Epic’s legal troubles, the state of the industry and John Carmack
On the Epic’s legal troubles, and id Tech 5: What we’re good at is making technologies for games, and John is known for being the best in the industry at making great rendering solutions. His technology is easy to work with for making the game run very well and very effectively.
It’s not all things for all people, so that gives us the opportunity, when people come see the technology, to let them make the decision on whether or not this is going to work for them. Our goals are not to license to everybody, but to provide a good licensing solution to people who see believe it’s going to be great for the type of game they’re making.
The thing about the unique texturing solution is that it fundamentally breaks the boundaries for the artists. They can create anything they want t create.
Artists have been working with limitation for a very long time, and they create a universe that is fundamentally tiled out of textures that are repeated, and they go back in and cover up the fact at it is tiled with decals and different overlays. And that creates more geometry and more overhead and slows down the game. Basically they’re trying to do something in real time that they can do better prior to that in the data they create.
And that’s a huge opportunity for our tech to create a completely unique outside terrain – more detailed than what people see in Quake Wars, but that concept – or you could be inside a closed environment and like a haunted mansion or something like that, and every aspect of every character, if you want it to be, can be unique. You’re basically leaving it up to the artist and the art team to decide whit their parameters are. They don’t have to be restricted by the technology anymore. And because it’s such a scalable solution, you don’t really have to worry about where it’s going. We’ve got our tech running on Mac, 360, PS3 PC, and it’s all one asset set and it goes to these different platforms and it runs fine.
On the state of the game industry: Games do take longer to make. And the types of games we make do take more people. … Wolfenstein 3D took a handful of people 6 months to make. Doom took less than a year with less than 10 people. Back then you could come up with an idea and get it into the world really fast.
I remember back in Wolfenstein, when I worked on a character that was taking me more than a week I thought for sure they were going to fire me. Times have changed. You can’t really get anything done in a week because we’re dealing with very complex and detailed things.
It requires artists and designers that have significant talent. These guys could make it in any business. The guys who work here at id could be illustrators, they could work in the movie industry … but they’ve chosen to work in games. So that’s really different than the way it used to be when I first started. But still, on a fundamental level, you’re still creating cool stuff. You’re still bringing things into the world that nobody has ever seen before or thought of before. That aspect is still the same, and I hope that doesn’t change.
On working in games: When I think back about the kind of stuff I was doing as a kid, whether it’s drawing new characters for comic books, or writing up ideas for D&D adventures and stuff … really this is sort of an extension of that. I just get a chance to do it at 42, which is pretty nice.
On John Carmack: When a guy in his spare time [designs a cell phone game] and makes rockets, that’s pretty much all the signs you need to know you’re working with a true genius.
Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist. His blog can be found at www.falsegravity.com.