Quake Champions: id’s Tim Willits on why id Tech 5 and Saber Interactive are a perfect fit

Speaking with Stevivor at Gamescom, id Software’s Tim Willits explained why Quake Champions elected for the id Tech 5 engine, coupled with Saber Interactive’s own internal tech, rather than the state of the art id Tech 6.

“It’s part id Tech and part Saber Tech,” Willits explained of Champions‘ innards. “The first thing that we wanted — the thing that we needed – was to make sure that we get that Quake Champions feels like a great game.”

That meant id Tech 6, the engine used for the multi-platform Doom, wasn’t what Willits was looking for.

“The only way to make it feel like a great game is to use part of id tech. It’s not id tech 6 because we are focused on just the PC.

“The important part is that it is a co-developed game using part id tech, part Saber tech, and we’re going to make the best PC game ever,” he continued.

Saber Interactive, best known for ports — Halo: Anniversary on Xbox 360 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One — was not only a good fit for its tech, but for its mentality, Willits said.

“Back when we were working, when I was pitching the idea and we were looking at whether or not we should expand Quake Live or do something new. We had talked to a number of developers because we of course have more IPs than people, which is a very good problem to have.

“What they came up with was shockingly similar to what we wanted to do,” he said of Saber. “They loved the original Quake 1 mythos and style and theme, the Lovecraftian game feel. They wanted to take individual characters farther as well, so we were like, ‘This is a great fit.’”

Partner choice was incredibly important to Willits, and an office in Russia only helped Saber’s chances.

“If you are not fundamentally in line with a partner it’s going to be a problem. They see the same thing that we see. Plus the Russians love Quake — they are crazy Quake fans,” he said. “When you go from Germany, east, it is Quake land. Even some of the things that I suggested early on, they were like, ‘We can’t do that!’

“They live and breathe Quake still. In fact, in Germany we have more Quake Live servers running in than we do in North America. It was a really good fit.”

The PC-only Quake Champions is expected in 2018.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.


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  • Well, this is kind of troubling. This likely explains why ID Tech 5 was never released under the GPL; breaking ID’s long tradition of source releases. I thought it odd that it’s already 2017 and we still have no source for ID Tech 5. The tradition was always to release outdated source when you release the first game using the new engine. But, clearly, ID decided to continue to use ID Tech 5 to spite DOOM 2016’s success with ID Tech 6. Also, how the Hell is Quake Champions ever going to be GPL when you’re tying it to Saber’s Proprietary engine? Is Saber willing to GPL the code they use for the hybrid engine? Or, sadly, is this the end of ID Software and GPL? Which, I hope is not the case.

    I feared that this would happen with John Carmack’s exit from ID; as I have long felt that he was the only reason the engines ever got released under the GPL in the first place; considering he was project lead on them. It was always an amazing opportunity to allow newcomers to expand the engine and do something with it. Such as GZDOOM and eventually Brutal DOOM. I waited, checking back every so many months, to see if ID Tech 5 was released yet. I kind of figured it might be a legal thing, considering Carmack is in litigation with ZeniMax and the source to ID Tech 5 was part of that litigation. My hope was that it would be released after all of that.

    I sincerely hope that ID Software has not abandoned it GPL tradition. Mod support and map editing is not enough or the same as truly liberating the source for all to study and adapt. This news greatly concerns and saddens me. As it was kind of what I expected to happen to ID now, even though I was still holding out that maybe it wouldn’t.

    • I wouldn’t count on it. Bethesda, and by extension ZeniMax (the current owner of id Software LLC), have made it abundantly clear that they won’t be opening up various properties or technologies that id Software traditionally did in the past. They’re a bunch of suits that don’t really care about what made the old id so great back in the day.

      It’s actually a miracle its predecessor id Tech 4 ever made it to GPL, since that did come out during a post-acquisition id, if I recall correctly. It’s probable that Carmack was quite persistent with upper management to follow through on his promise for open sourcing the engine. However, especially after the rather lukewarm reception of the GPL’d id Tech 4 code (see iodoom3 activity compared to ioquake3 and you’ll see what I’m talking about), Bethesda / ZeniMax isn’t really motivated to GPL id Tech 5, even if there was less corporate red tape to deal with. Them’s the breaks, man.

      I do wonder if Carmack regrets selling out to them all these years later. I suppose we’ll never know.