Id chases new level of gaming in 'Rage'

Video game developer id Software, the Texas-based firm that spawned classics Doom and Quake, is blasting its way out of the first-person-perspective shooting genre it pioneered.

In the works: Rage, a futuristic story-driven game that promises Grand Theft Auto-style exploration and adventure as well as the expected claustrophobic gun-wielding action. "We have expanded out the game. It's more than 10 guns and a bunch of bad guys," lead designer Tim Willits says.

Rage represents the first totally new game from the Mesquite, Texas, developer since Quake infested computers back in 1996. Id's games, coupled with those designed by other firms using its programming "engines," have sold more than $1 billion worldwide.

Early Doom and Quake games focused on using multiple forms of weaponry against ever-evolving demons and creatures, and competitors in multiplayer games. Then, 2004's Doom 3 displayed id's growing interest in story development aimed at single players.

That carries over into Rage. "The game takes place in the future, after civilization is recovering from a comet strike on Earth," Willits says. "The lines between right and wrong are very blurred. You are a guy trying to survive and fight the injustices of the evil regime."

Todd Hollenshead, id's CEO, likens the game's protagonist to Mel Gibson's iconic character in Mad Max. "There is something for you to rage against. Also, there is more of an adventure aspect to the game because of what we can do with these vast outdoor landscapes."

Company co-founder John Carmack began working on Rage and its underlying id "Tech 5" engine after finishing the Xbox 360 version of Doom 3, released in 2005. That game, first available in 2004 for the PC, was a best seller at more than 3 million copies.

Rage is being developed for PCs, Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3. As in the past, id will not set a release date, referring to its motto that the game will be released "when it's done."

More id news from the weekend-long QuakeCon game gathering that drew 6,000-plus to Dallas:

•Writer/director Roger Avary and producer Samuel Hadida, who worked on adaptations of games Silent Hill and Resident Evil, are developing a film based on id's World War II Nazi-hunting game, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. A game sequel is in the works, too.

•It must be done: Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (for PC) is due in stores Oct. 2.

•Id's entire back catalog, from Doom 3 to 1990's first Commander Keen game, is now available on the Steam (steampowered.com) digital distribution network.

•Also in development is Quake Zero, a free, Web-based version of Quake 3, and Quake Arena Arcade, a new multiplayer death-match game designed specifically for Xbox Live Arcade. Of course, no release dates have been announced.

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