Quake and Simplicity
FS: Why do you think people like Quake 3?
John: Specifically what we set out to do with Quake 3 was just a completely eyes-wide-open-focus on the game just being fun while you're playing it. There's no sense of hubris about the grand design or anything about it, or trying to impose a story or a tale on top of all this. It's looking at a game in it's fundamental sense of what you're doing has to be fun. It's not a matter of beating the game into submission or accomplishing something, the actions have to be fun.
There has to be something that you wanna just go out and do. People don't play softball because they want to beat the game of softball; it has to be an action that's fun by itself. I think that we succeeded in a lot of ways there. We expected and did receive a lot of feedback from the incestuous core of our fanbase.
There certainly are people who want more and more complexity and sophistication in things. That is a viable direction to go for games, but it does lead towards a stagnant core. You get like what you have in the flight simulators, where you have games that require you to read this giant manual before you can get in and have fun. There have been flight simulators where you just jump in, fly around and shoot things, and those are fun and interesting. Then there are these serious simulators where you have to convince yourself that you're being entertained.
It's possible to do a first person shooter like that, where it requires so much knowledge about what's going on, how things are supposed to work, strategies of all of these things, that it's just not fun to sit down and play. And there would be probably a couple of hundred thousand people that would like that, but I wouldn't actually be one of them. I don't have the time to sit down and learn it. I never got into any of the complex mods that would require like a whole bunch of complex stuff to learn. I still like playing a simple, fast game, where you jump in and have a good time, and I think there are five times as many people in the game buying world that also feel that way. But those 200,000 people that want the extremely sophisticated, complex games, they've got my email address and they make themselves known. We set out expecting that.
FS: So what was the last non-id game that you spent more than 2 hours playing?
John: Probably F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64 - racing cars.
FS: have you ever thought of making a driving game?
John: We talked about it right after Wolfenstein. I was working with some voxel-landfield technology and we did a really brief demo of a little car driving thing. But we've never taken anything close enough to proof of concept. But if we did do a driving game, it would almost certainly be in the fun genre, like the F-Zero games, rather than the really serious driving simulations. And again, there are many valid paths to games, but I have my personal biases, and they happen to be broadly held enough that we can do successful games and still be doing games that I consider entertaining for me.