by Joseph Leray
After scrapping what used to be "Doom 4" and starting over, id Software are "all hands on deck" for the new project says studio director Tim Willits. As a result, id's other franchises have taken a backseat to the cyberdemon-infected shooter -- don't expect another "Rage" or "Quake" game for a while.
"It wasn’t like the art was bad, or the programming was bad. Every game has a soul. Every game has a spirit," Willits told IGN during last weekend's QuakeCon when asked about his game's troubled development cycle. "And [Doom] did not have the spirit, it did not have the soul, it didn’t have a personality. It had a bit of schizophrenia, a little bit of an identity crisis."
"It didn’t have the passion and soul of what an id game is. Everyone knows the feeling of 'Doom,' but it’s very hard to articulate,” he continued.
"It was something that we looked at and the id guys looked at and said, 'Look, it’s not even that something is necessarily bad. But is it good enough?'" explained Pete Hines, vice president of marketing for publisher Bethesda Softworks.
"It’s not great. It’s not amazing. It’s not what people have waited all this time for. It needs to be like, ‘This was totally worth the wait,’" Hines said. "And I think what the guys at id are working on is...they’re pushing the boundaries and challenging themselves. I don’t want anybody to look at id’s next project and have this reaction that it’s still stuck in the 90s.”
Way back in 2011, development on "Doom 4" was halted and a new version of the game was born as id "refocused its efforts on a new version of 'Doom 4' that promises to meet the very high expectations everyone has for this game and this franchise." Two years later, id are being tight-lipped with info, but Willits promises that "Doom 4" is the only game being developed at the studio right now.
That raises questions for company's other properties, though. There hasn't been a "Quake" game, for example, since "Quake 4" was released in 2005. A free-to-play browser version of "Quake 3" was released in 2010 as "Quake Live," but that's not quite the same thing.
"Yeah, [there's pressure],” Willits told Rock, Paper, Shotgun when asked about the series. “But what’s great is, the 'Quake' franchise is still really healthy. Look at all these people at QuakeCon. It’s awesome. Right now we can’t do it because just, you know, time, energy, people… let’s get focused. All on the same page. Let’s make ['Doom 4'] great, period.”
Id is taking a similar wait-and-see approach to "Rage," a series that Willits insists still has potential.
"The franchise is not dead,” he says, despite "Rage 2" having been canceled in late 2011. “But again, we have no immediate plans for it. But I created a universe that was rich enough that we could easily step back into it. It has very unique elements to it and I think people enjoyed it. We left it in a good position.”
Id's single-mindedness notwithstanding, I'm mostly impressed with Bethesda's willingness to explain, in public, that some of their games simply aren't good enough to be released. Bethesda re-booted "Doom 4" and has been refreshingly frank about "Prey 2," a game that, according to Hines, has not been "hitting the quality bar."
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter