Enemy Territory: Quake Wars - dev commentary

Mmm… megatextures

Jolly: “The megatexture was the brainchild of John Carmack. The story goes that Kevin Cloud showed the game to Carmack and he came up with using a unique texture for every terrain. Kevin came back and told us, and we were like, ‘That’s crazy, it’ll never work!’. But John gave us some code and our tech director booted it up and amazingly we had prototypes up quickly. However, we didn’t have any tools, so myself and another artist had to hand paint everything.

“The main textures were 32,000 by 32,000 pixels and the files were so big we couldn’t edit them in Photoshop. So we split them up into 16 different tiles, and each took about a day to produce. We dreaded changes because it would take half-an-hour just to open up the files. Luckily we got the tools soon after that.

Working with id

Wedgwood: “We’ve always had a great relationship with id Software and have always communicated by ICQ, even when we were a mod team when we first started out chatting to Robert Duffy (lead programmer at id), who back then was just a tools programmer, helping with the development kits for Quake III. We were pestering him all the time - ‘give us beta, give us a beta!’ - and that way of communicating continued through QW:ET. We tend to work long hours in the office anyway to make it possible for us to talk to them in US time zones.”

Jolly: “Often we ended up working longer hours than id! One time, it was very late on a Friday night and the phone rang. I answered it and heard, ‘Hi, it’s Tim Willits [id’s co-owner and lead designer] who’s this?’ We hadn’t had any dealings with Tim at that point, so I was like, ‘Oh my God! Why is he ringing us?’. Tim asked in a stern voice, ‘Who else is there?’ and I started reeling out the names of people who were in the office - Tim used to be in the army and is a scary guy.

“Then I suddenly hear lots of laughter and he said, ‘Oh man, you guys need to stop working so hard - I just lost $50!’ Him and Robert Duffy were drunk in a bar, and Robert, who knows us well, had a bet with Tim that we’d still be in the office at midnight...”

May 9, 2008