Doom creator John Carmack wasn't trying to create an indie work of art when he threw Aliens, Wolfenstein 3D and Hieronymus Bosch into a bag and shook it up until Doom fell out. The game was groundbreaking in plenty of ways, but it also made its populist, ass-kicking intentions clear. Speaking in an interview with Industry Gamers, Carmack said he’s happy that id Software’s Rage is “a little bit different in terms of feeling and tone.” However, although Rage may have a lot more in common with other modern first-person shooters, the co-founder of id Software has little time for people who rag on games, like Modern Warfare just because there are uncomplicated and popular.
Speaking about the perceived creative slump within the FPS genre (you know the complaints: gray palettes, squad gameplay, pistol/shotgun/machinegun weapon-sets, etc), Carmack bristles. “As long as people are buying it, it means they’re enjoying it," he argues. "If they buy the next Call of Duty, it’s because they loved the last one and they want more of it. So I am pretty down on people who take the sort of creative auteurs' perspective.”
The designer’s first priority, he suggests, shouldn't be creativity but value. His job, Carmack argues, is “not to do something that nobody’s ever seen before. It’s to do something that people love so much they’re willing to give us money for." Carmack has little time for what he calls the “snooty attitude” of many regarding creativity: “It’s almost as if it’s popular, it’s not good. And that’s just not true.”
Above: If this is creative bankruptcy, it's hard to make a case for innovation
It’s the same argument often made by filmmakers or musicians when they turn out something that happens to be both well-received by critics and popular with the masses. Of course, you could argue that when people criticize shooters for being popular, they're really lamenting an industry that's less likely to take a chance on something that's a little harder to sell... but then, there was once a time when “shooting demonic zombies in semi-3D first-person” would've been a hard sell too. And that turned out okay, right?
Jul 19, 2011
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