Tim Willits on the Past, Present, and Future of id Software
Working with Bethesda, MachineGames, and the Next-Gen Consoles
Devin: Let’s take a broad, general look at Bethesda … has it been tough? Doom 4 has been a long time coming, and I know there have been many bumps in the road. Prey 2 — no idea what’s going on there. Fantastic E3 demo but then it vanished into thin air.
Tim: It would be tougher if we were independent. With the Doom stuff, you know they want to make great games and they’ve given us the ability to do that. They give us the flexibility to make decisions that may be good and may be bad. When you’re independent, if you don’t execute exactly right, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble. So it’s been … trust me, they’ve been great.
Devin: You’ve been under the Bethesda umbrella for a few years now. Do you think that, with Doom 4 delays, there is going to be more oversight by Bethesda? Has anything changed for you over the past year?
Tim: No, no, no, we — trust me, they have a mentality that, “You guys make the game, we’ll sell it.” And they’ve definitely helped us with our production but it’s not oversight. That sounds so big brother-ish. They never said, “Make it green” or “Make Hell like this.” They’ve never done that, which has been great.
Devin: Between the “make it” and “sell it” parts, there’s been a lot. It was 2008 when Todd [Hollenshead] was on stage talking about Doom 4. It’s been a long time.
“…we’re all marching in the same direction and we’ve cut a lot of distractions out.”
Tim: Yes. But you know, we gotta do what we gotta do.
Devin: Are things moving along smoothly?
Tim: Yes. Things are moving along.
Devin: Is Doom 4 … still a thing?
Tim: Yes, things are moving along, yes.
Devin: How many different projects do you have going right now?
Tim: Well, you know, we’re all marching in the same direction and we’ve cut a lot of distractions out. But you know we still have Quake Live, and of course we have our big project, and we’re working with the Wolfenstein guys. But besides that there’s nothing else that I can publicly talk about.
Devin: And “the big project” … it’s the one we’ve all been talking about?
Devin: Wolfenstein, how has been working with MachineGames?
Tim: Those guys are great. And it’s great to have an IP. Wolfenstein’s a great IP and what’s neat is that MachineGames has been taking it in a different direction with the ’60s and what happened if the Nazis won. Those guys are so talented, too … it’s been nice.
Devin: Do you like the voice that they’ve given to BJ? He’s never been a big talker. And now he’s got internal monologue, and serious-but-kind-of-goofy lines like, “Your death is such paltry restitution.”
Tim: You know what? It gives him personality. And the MachineGames guys have a vision and we support their vision.
Devin: How do you think it stacks up to the last Wolfenstein game from 2009?
Tim: It’s definitely going to be better than the 2009 version that Raven did.
Devin: Have you played Rise of the Triad yet?
Tim: I have not seen it.
Devin: You should go talk to Dave [Oshry].
Tim: I love that guy. He’s just so … Dave, you know what I mean?
Devin: Did you pay attention to the development of Rise of the Triad at all?
Tim: No. Did [Interceptor] do it like remotely? Was it virtual development?
Devin: I think so. They met up [in Denmark] a few times for deadlines and milestones.
Tim: Dave’s a great guy, but I never paid attention to the game.
Devin: Were you a fan of the original Rise of the Triad?
Tim: No. I thought it was kind of goofy, haha. They had like the bounce pads, that’s cool.
Devin: Are you guys still working with the Oculus Rift?
Tim: No, not really. I know they’re still working on their stuff but I’m not sure what they’re doing.
Devin: Anything exciting in the industry that’s not id Software-related?
Tim: It’s nice that Microsoft and Sony are not so different.
Devin: Have you gotten your hands on the new hardware?
Tim: Yes. We’ve had ours for a while, which makes it difficult to talk to journalists.
Devin: What do you think? Are you leaning one way or the other?
Tim: Nope. That’s what I mean, that’s the great thing. They’ll tell you that they’re different but they’re pretty similar. When you stack them up they’re … it comes down to exclusive titles and developer support and pushing the social initiatives.
“It’s nice that Microsoft and Sony are not so different.”
Devin: What about development environments?
Tim: Like tools?
Devin: Tools and how the operating system(s) work.
Tim: But yeah, the consumer never sees that. For us? It’s really too new and we’re getting SDK updates and still we’re moving up the beta hardware and getting the final hardware. You have to give it a little more time.
Devin: You’re getting final hardware now?
Tim: Well, the way it works is, they send hardware and they send newer hardware and you send the old hardware back. Then you have a new SDK to flash and that’s just the way it works.
Devin: Have they given you what they call final hardware yet?
Tim: I don’t think we do. That all goes to [Robert] Duffy, so you have to ask Duffy.
Devin: It seems like you and Carmack are not fans of the Kinect.
Tim: There needs to be — there’s a few killer apps, like the dance games are awesome, and the voice stuff is much better, but the problem for me is that … this is what I like to do [makes a console controller gesture]. Just playing with the controller. I just like to sit back and relax.
If you liked our interview with Tim Willits, be sure to check out the rest of our QuakeCon 2013 coverage here.