Rage 2 (opens in new tab) is built to be the ideal fusion of open-world chaos and precision-built shooting, taking philosophies from both principal developer Avalanche and overseer Id Software. Sometimes an aspect of one team's work catches the other team's eye, and it results in something strange. That's the rough origin story behind a secret cave in Rage 2 that hides within it the power to control time itself: The Willits Switch.
The switch was named in honor of Tim Willits, Id studio director and one half of a Rage 2 community Q&A panel at QuakeCon. He was also joined by game director Magnus Nedfors of Avalanche. One question asked about what kind of changing weather and time-of-day systems Rage 2 will have. Nedfors started by explaining that the studio has built dynamic systems to handle all those details "like in all our games," which sometimes means having to wait for bad weather to pass before he can grab a nice screenshot (no, really).
But Willits, who was coming from a background of fast-paced shooters with static worlds, fixated on another detail: "Because the world is dynamic the time of day changes, and the weather changes. So one of our producers works at [Id owner] Bethesda, and I work closely with him and we work with the Avalanche guys. So I called him up and I was like, 'Hey, I've got this idea. I want to have a little secret cave somewhere in the game that you go in, and there's just a switch. And you throw the switch and it changes the time of day. And the guy's like, 'That's the stupidest thing ever.'"
Willits then began to act out the desired experience of flipping the switch back and forth in front of the panel audience. Day! Night! Day! Night! The panel audience burst out laughing. "So we made one," Nedfors quietly added.
"Yep! It's awesome," Willits said. "So if you find the switch in the game somewhere, that's the Willits Switch. And [when you do find it,] say 'this is awesome,' because so far, I've only heard, 'this is really dumb.'"
Check out our Rage 2 hands-on preview (opens in new tab) for more on why the game feels very smart (despite the time cave).