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id Software: "You need to make a franchise"

Thu 29 Sep 2011 6:45am GMT / 2:45am EDT / 11:45pm PDT
Development

Developers can't afford an only child when it comes to new IP, says creative director Tim Willets

id software

id defined by Freud as the primal section of the human psyche; id Software, located in Mesquite, Texas,...

idsoftware.com

id Software's creative director - and 17 year company veteran - Tim Willits, believes that new intellectual property should be considered a franchise from conception.

"You need to made a franchise" Willits told GameIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview. "Especially for us. We're doing everything we can to turn Rage into a franchise, please let it sell so we can make another one."

Rage is a new IP for the company and is due for release on October 7. Willits explained from day one, id Software knew it wanted to make a sequel.

"We definitely, from the get go, planned to make this a much bigger franchise, a much richer world, that allows us to have different games, and we can make more mobile games, heck, we could make a social game with Rage if we wanted to. And hopefully we can make a Rage 2. Hopefully."

He went on to talk about the company's commitment to cutting edge technology, an ethos that is expensive, but can be worthwhile, as long as you're making franchises.

"It's huge investment in new technology, it's taken us a long time to make the engine, we're definitely leveraging this technology of course with the next Doom game and hopefully with Rage 2 and some of our other titles."

"From a business standpoint, making a part two is always smart."

The full interview with Tim Willets, where he also reveals how the Doom 4 announcement was a hook to bait CVs, can be read here.

10 Comments

Fred Skoler Business Strategy, Design, Executive Producer

11 0 0.0
Wouldn't a change in business model help the franchise opportunity? Serialized content delivered on a set schedule would enable subscriptions and ongoing interest. I think developers, especially indi, should consider alternative delivery methods and engage their audience more frequently with smaller chunks of great content. Lower price for initial sales but with ongoing revenue potential. Digital delivery is here to stay. We can make it work for us and keep the audience happy too.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Blaise Guy Studying Bachelor of Games and Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology

9 0 0.0
Reads very similar to something I wrote a while back after a good, hard ponder.

Creating a game from the IP, and not the IP from the game. Or, making a story, a full, rich world, and then creating a game within that world. When someone looks at a game like Starcraft versus a game like Total Annihilation, they don't care so much that TA had a real time physics collision engine going or that the resource collection scheme was amazing, or that the unit AI options had much better diversity and control, no. A lot of people remember the story/IP based things though.

Terran are rednecks, and the voices and little portrait animations help to show us this. You can probably remember little quotes now, a vulture, after repetitive clicks, responds "I don't have time to f*** around."

Total Annihilation had... different kinds of robots. I mean, sure, cool, they're robots, and I guess in a possibly ironic way they really got that right - they are all completely faceless and forgettable in terms of personality and their use/character in the world. But you hear one engine whirring, you've heard them all.

I'm rambling somewhat, but what I want you to take from this, and its relevance to the post from id there, is that when making an IP one should consider how much depth they can create in that world, interesting characters that can latch onto people's memory with a titan's grip, and well defined cultures and worlds that people can derive stories from. There are well selling Starcraft books, that kind of thing doesn't happen without making an interesting world with characters that really resonate with the player. Community interest also helps keep a franchise alive while you work on creating a sequel.

Final tl;dr - strong game IPs are good, great game IPs are the ones that don't even have to be games.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

576 318 0.6
This is why the game industry is so f*cked up.

The entire drive of growth is in building the companies.

That does NOT facilitate good creative development. You have high overhead and you have to pump out sequels to meet that overhead.

You just churn. Sequelism. Pumping stuff out not because it deserves to be made, but because the company (the game studio) needs some deal in the pipeline to keep it afloat.

This approach usually creates garbage.

The film industry solved this problem decades ago. It does PROJECT-BASED development. When the project is over, everything is shut down. Your burn drops to nearly nil. You now have time to develop a new project without the pressure of overhead.

Any concern of losing talent is a non-issue. The entire film industry runs according to this model - has for several decades - and it has NEVER had an issue with "losing talent".

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
I dont think that creating a new IP with the idea of making it a multimillion doller franchise would be good for creativity. Because you lock yourself away to the idea that it has to make money and you sacrifice creativity. So you cater to established formulas that are sure to make money and not risk anything new. like creating another 1st person shooter. I think what he is saying is good. Games like Mass effect established a rich world were many story's and games can spin off from. its a major brand. But companies can also build on those games success by creating smaller production riskier IP's that may or may not be succesfull, because they have a solid income coming in from other succesful francises. I think the nature of a franchise should come as a natural evolution from a succesful game and not taint a succesful reputation of a game with bad sequels. if the game warrents it then yeah. But some stories and characters are best left alone.

Fallout for example started as a point and click strategy RPG and not so good graphics. But the idea and framework were there since it was concieved. Fallout 3 is basically the same concept with a shiny new coat of graphics and differant control mechanisms. But the heart of the game was there before the resources were there. I believe you can create a great set of characters, story and great game ideas and even establish a brand, without risking so much if you manage resources efficiently as a developer. Right now if you look at the success of most franchises they started out small.

Cause these guys are already talking a bout a rage2 without even putting the first game out. Activision wants a call of Duty out every year and look how final fantasy's reputation has gone down the pipeline for not innovating. Same happened with kingdom hearts and prince of persia. A franchise can hit the rocks if a developer gets careless. Having a big name brand isnt enough. Creativity and execution are also important.

The necesity for a sequel should be something that should be called for naturally through a games development and success. Mass Effect was set for 3 games, but beyond that knowbody knows what will happen. And if we see a mass effect 4 or Online game will depend on part 3's success and reception. I myself am dying for more Mass Effect, but lets see were the 3rd game goes first.

A game like beyond Good and Evil is crying for a sequel, new technology is out and the first game has been out long enough that a sequel would be ripe to bring in fresh new ideas to an already existing brand. id like to see a Mirrors Edge 2. I know sales havent been friendly to these two games, but unless developers push for something new or something they are passionate about, Im afraid we will keep seeing more first person shooters... and honestly thats all ID software does... Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein and now Rage... Same game, differant name.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 29th September 2011 6:20pm

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

461 172 0.4
@Blaise Guy

What you said is precisely on the button, but strangely it's not what I took away from the original article. I would pretty much like to frame the statement "[Make] a story, a full, rich world, and then [create] a game within that world." As pretty much the only way to make a game with a compelling story that will last with the player.

The article reads to me like its saying design your games so their stories are never finished and can be monetized in endless amounts of ways from the get go.

To illustrate why I feel this is an abhorrent philosophy you need only look at a game like Halo. Halo followed the statement above and had such a full and rich universe behind the game that there were 5 books, a comic series, (nearly) a movie and coherent history, law and legend within the universe that the actual FPS game never saw and never even got the chance to do anything more than hint at. Had Bungie gone the way iD was speaking of then all of the books etc would have been about the story based on characters within the game as opposed to just within the universe but instead most of the focus was grounding the universe in reality using historical characters etc. The how did it get to this point and where will it go system. Something I have yet to see anyone else in gaming do. Even Mass Effect lacks this, but every popular comic universe, sci fi series etc can do this fine.

I have yet to see a franchise that satisfies the casual gamer, excites the hardcore and manages to feed those that see games as another story medium as well as the Halo franchise has, and I think anyone that attempts to make a game that has as deep and compelling a universe as Halo does, will ultimately find themselves spinning similar sums of money out of their franchise.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Devin Connors Editor

1 0 0.0
"The full interview with Tim Willets..."
Seriously? You can't even spell Tim's last name right...

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports

93 79 0.8
@Tim

These comparisons to the film industry never work. From an engineering standpoint every studio has its own tech of varying levels and their own way of doing things. Many great developments come from evolving existing tech. Something which is best done by the people who worked with the previous iteration. Having a marry-go-round of engineers on every project would be incredibly disruptive and costly. The same goes for the design and production team. How can you design something if you don't know what your studio / tech is capable of? Do you want to train a new bunch of people to use your level editing tools every single project?

We are not in film, we are not like movie stars, let's stop trying to compare ourselves to them.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,135 1,171 1.0
Do people really care about the IP with this year's action-genre-fusion games? Trailers, such as the 99 Problems one for Battlefield, do not necessarily push the IP as much as they push this mixture of Mirror's Edge, fps, vehicle, and air combat. You do not get this narrow genre piece, but rather a blend of all that is good about different types of action games. Which I guess is even tougher to include in an engine, than developing an IP. EA could slap just about any of their IPs to Battlefield 3 and get away with it, because once the game has a certain level of quality, the world in which it takes place is secondary. If Bioshock were a Final Fantasy game, I doubt anybody would complain. Prey 2? Why not?

Posted:3 years ago

#8
I dont think there is a right way to make a great franchise. Sometimes its being a right place, right IP, right release. Everything else is wafle-ism except for go make a great enjoyable game.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
I agree with Andrew's comments that having a rich and developed gameworld and backstory help me as a gamer feel more immersed and interested in the story and premise (recent examples being BioShock and Demon's Souls), although I don't necessarily think these elements are important for developing a franchise or guaranteeing a certain level of consumer adoration.

I must admit, although I know sequels and franchises are highly important to big developers and publishers nowadays, I quite like the ethos undertaken by the likes of thatgamecompany or Platinum Games, where they always seem to be looking forward to new and different projects, and the creativity bursting from all their developments is overwhelming. You really feel that these studios put their all into every development, and then rather than looking to a sequel they move on to something very different. I really respect that.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

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