The Obligatory QuakeCon 2013 ‘Where’s Doom 4′ Chat

By Nathan Grayson on August 6th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

It’s time for another grand QuakeCon tradition! Ever since the paleo cretacean era of 2008, I’ve asked id Software the same question once a year: “So, where’s Doom 4?” Then we have a quick, largely insubstantial discussion about something else entirely. Eventually, however, my dogged determination to mention Doom 4 at least three times per sentence and occasionally roll my eyes back and just start screaming its name prevails, and my reward is a few tasty, tasty tidbits. Here’s this year’s conversation, preserved in that most immortal of fossilized tree saps: language.

RPS: Why no major announcements from id during this year’s QuakeCon?

Tim Willits: It’s like Pete Hines said a few months ago: when we have something to talk about, the world will know.

RPS: A few QuakeCons ago, id pronounced that we’d definitely see Doom 4 soon. Now we definitely haven’t. What went wrong?

Tim Willits: We looked at the game and wanted to make sure it was awesome, so we kind of reevaluated it a bit. Again, I hate to be this guy, but when we can talk about it, we’ll talk about it.

RPS: Do you have a timeframe for that? Soon-ish?

Tim Willits: There’s no timeframe.

RPS: Why did you wear a Doom shirt on stage during the QuakeCon keynote? Were you trying to taunt us? Play awful, destructive games with our hearts? 

Tim Willits: Actually, this is the truth: I was gonna wear another shirt, but I forgot to pick it up. So I went down to the [show floor] store, and I was like, “Give me a Quake shirt and give me a Doom shirt.” Then I put the Quake one on and my jacket over it, and I was like, “Yeah, I like the Doom one better.” That is the truth. You now have the scoop on why I was wearing a Doom shirt [laughs].

RPS: You have a new artist who came over from Pacific Rim, of all things. Is Doom 4 now a Pacific Rim game? Is that the big secret? 

Tim Willits: [laughs] That’s funny. No one has to worry about that.

RPS: Awww. I kind of wanted to worry about that. 

Tim Willits: I think Guillermo del Toro might have a couple things to say if we did it.

RPS: Well, don’t use the license. Just fill Doom 4 with giant monsters and let me be a multi-stories-tall megaton robot. That’s basically what Doom has always been about, right?

Tim Willits: [laughs]

RPS: But seriously, why all the secrecy? Is id in a state of flux? Where does that leave Doom? Is it still even a thing?

Tim Willits: We are definitely focusing our attention on making a great game. Like I’ve said before, when everyone marches to the same drummer, you can make success. We really tried to streamline production. We’ve taken distractions out. We really are working like a much better, well-oiled machine. John [Carmack] hinted a little bit about that during his talk, where he discussed some of the help we’re giving the Machine Games guys on Wolfenstein – how that core tech can help with other engines.

RPS: What about Todd Hollenshead’s sudden departure? Conventional wisdom says that when your president/CEO of nearly two decades suddenly takes off, that’s a sign of pretty serious upheaval.

Tim Willits: You know, it’s funny. To everyone else it came as a shock, but for us – for me, because I’ve known Todd for so long – it was kinda natural. He was with the company for a long time, and you know, all good things must come to an end. Trust me: I’ve asked him a lot of questions about hosting QuakeCon. I texted him, and he texted me back. He’s been a big help.

RPS: Is he still working in games?

Tim Willits: I’m not sure what he’s doing.

RPS: Huh. OK then. When you were in the final stages of getting RAGE out, you talked a lot about how you couldn’t afford to do these massive, seven-year development cycles in this day and age. But Doom seems to be in danger of going down that road. Has it been hard to change your ship’s course – to push id in the direction of faster dev cycles?

Tim Willits: It takes a while to turn a machine, but we’ve finally got it. Gears are moving. And Bethesda’s been great. They’ve really helped us sort things out. Working with the other sister studios has really helped us. It’s guided us out of [our old mindset]. You know, we’ve been around a long time, and things change. It’s been nice to have Bethesda around.

RPS: Things seemed rocky there for a bit. I mean, there was that Kotaku article about a fair amount of internal strife, trouble getting the Doom and RAGE teams to merge well, etc. 

Tim Willits: I know, I know. And you know, Pete Hines and I talked, and that’s when we came up with the statement we sent out. I think it works. But you know, you always get that [in game development]. And really, if we weren’t influential, if people weren’t interested in what we’re working on, you wouldn’t have those types of stories. But people are interested in what we’re working on, so sometimes people just like to, you know, dig up trash.

RPS: Are you still using id Tech 5 for Doom? Or are you toiling away on a new version of your engine in light of all the “next-gen” madness? 

Tim Willits: The core tech guys are developing new stuff in-engine, and we have the new hardware so we’re looking at what sorts of things we can do. So we’re growing the technology because, remember, the technology was built to always be expandable. To get us into the future. So we will continually develop that technology, and at some  point we’ll change the number.

RPS: It’s an interesting time to be so high-end tech-focused, given that engines like Unity are swinging things in the complete opposite direction – de-emphasizing top-of-the-line bells and whistles in favor of usability by everyone. 

Tim Willits: And sometimes that stuff takes off. You cannot predict crazy success. You can try to foster creativity. You can try to build a process. But it is exciting that we have people who can come up with ideas that explode and are just amazing.

RPS: It really is! But graphics seem to be less and less of a factor for many people – whether they play smaller indie games or not. Where does that leave a company like id that specializes in that sort of thing?

Tim Willits: It’s becoming more and more difficult to shock and awe people with technology. And there will always be studios that develop new tech to push things forward. But the great thing is that we also have studios that can do things with smaller engines and be successful. It’s always been about how fun the game is. Technology has always helped that and gotten people to pay attention to something, but at the end of the day, it’s got to be fun.

RPS: Even so, is it a little bit frightening to lose one of your biggest calling cards? Or for it to become significantly less important in the span of just a couple releases from id? 

Tim Willits: No, not really. As long as the next game we make is great, as long as we can help other Bethesda studios like Machine make something great, I think we’ll be fine.

RPS: DOOM 4 DOOM 4 DOOM 4 DOOM 4. I mean, er, Thank you for your time.

So there you have it. We’ve reached the end of that amusingly frustrating ride. I wasn’t expecting to learn a whole lot, but what I got was only slightly better than a whole lot of nothing. The takeaways? Doom 4′s development reset has left id in a weird place, and I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing much of the game for quite some time. Maybe not even during next year’s QuakeCon. Meanwhile, there’s been some high-level changes to the id roster, perhaps out of necessity to inject some new life into a reportedly Call-of-Duty-esque, rather uninspired Doom 4.

But this one project is all id’s working on – at least, as far as games go. No RAGE 2, no anything else. Willits did take every opportunity to stress id’s development of in-house tech for Bethesda, though. It might sound like utter blasphemy, but I could see a future in which that becomes the legendary (but recently less-relevant) developer’s primary role. 

Oh, and one last thing: it’s worth noting that Willits never once mentioned Doom 4 by name. This apparently happened to many other reporters as well. Me, I plan to do at least try and do some more digging. I’m getting a bit tired of snoozing through the same old script year after year.   

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73 Comments »

  1. Echo Black says:

    With the new Wolf pushed to 2014, I’m pretty sure Doom 4 is a 2015 game at the earliest. It’d be really unlike Bethesda to release two “id” AAA FPSes in the same (fiscal?) year, and even if id is not directly developing Wolf, Carmack’s QC keynote seemed to suggest they’re quite hands-on in giving MachineGames assistance with its development.

    • Alexander says:

      In no way will it be out in 2014. Who knows what exactly is going on in that studio. id is really in a special place regarding games, something similar to 3DRealms. They’re (somehow) obligated to live to their legacy but also to remain relevant.

  2. TheMick says:

    Nathan is the bulldog chomping on the ass of evasion and the hand of obfuscation. Good Job dude

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      +1, it was an entertaining read despite a bunch of answers that could be paraphrased as one word “No”. I do like reading bullish interviewers every so often though.

  3. Discopanda says:

    why can’t every interview be like this.

    • Nova says:

      Because we wouldn’t know much afterwards which defeats the point of an interview?

  4. Premium User Badge

    maicus says:

    Am I too young to get this? Why does this company even have it’s own con? Haven’t we completely moved on as a medium now? Are these people relevant at all? Why am I asking YOU these questions?

    • Alexander says:

      You’re asking because we are the great Internet Authority.
      It has its own Con ’cause it was relevant some time ago.
      Moved on to where? CoD?
      J Carmack is relevant, but not really as a game designer.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Carmack never really was a big game designer. He has always been more known for his programming and engine design. One could try and argue that they’re the same thing, but they’re not.

    • nimzy says:

      id Software basically invented the FPS genre. Their parent company owns Bethesda Softworks. These are two of the most important and influential game development studios in the world. And unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade or so you’ll notice that lots of companies have their own conventions. Mojang has MineCon. Blizzard has BlizzCon. and Sony has the SOE Fan Faire (SOE Live now, I guess the name wasn’t hip enough for the younger crowd). That isn’t even an exhaustive list.

      QuakeCon is unique in that it started as a massive LAN party that eventually got adopted by the company that made the eponymous game.

      • Alexander says:

        No honey, I haven’t been living under a rock, in a cave, under the ocean the past decade so I’m aware of everything you’ve said. Doom is the first game I’ve played on a PC and I’m fond of it, id and Bethesda. That still doesn’t mean I should lie to myself about how relevant they still are. I’m sure they have capable people, but from what I see, JC is really not that interested in game design any more. I wish them all the best and hope to see Doom4 and HL3 crush the pretentious “modern war sim” that plagues the industry, but I won’t hold my breath too much. Maybe just a bit.

        • Javier-de-Ass says:

          don’t think john carmack’s been a game designer for id since shadow knights. 22 years ago.

    • Fremen_Warrior66 says:

      It was started back in the 90′s as a LAN party for fans of the Quake series. Id Software and the vendors did not get involved until later as the con gained popularity. The real core and reason for Quakecon is the BYOC, all the other stuff is extra.

    • Sinkytown says:

      I can’t think of a single modern FPS I like as much as Doom. May we never move on.

    • Mctittles says:

      I’m sorry to hear that you are upset they are still supporting their fans that like to get together and LAN play a game they love. Too bad they can’t just cancel an online service and shut the game down for good.

    • Barberetti says:

      Am I too young to get this?

      Evidently.

    • woodsey says:

      Their relevance has certainly been slipping.

    • dmastri says:

      No you are spot on. iD hasn’t been relevant for quite some time and I really don’t understand the hero worship. Their last good release was… Quake 2 in 1997?

      Doom 3 was poor.

      Rage was mediocre ultimately let down by an engine that just isn’t very good at all. For a company whose calling card is suppose to be future tech that’s quite disheartening.

      But yes despite all my bitching, QuakeCon has earned its stripes and it’s only natural that JC and team are at the helm. Let’s just not have any illusions about anything they say mattering.

      • DazedByTheHaze says:

        Jumping from Doom2 to Doom3 without mentioning Quake3… WWWWTTTTFFFF???? The Quake3 engine ruled the FPS world for years. And in my mind, still does. This was before all this UnrealEngine crap was produced.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        I keep hearing people say this line about how idTech 5 isn’t very good, but I’ve never seen anyone actually say why in any kind of real capacity. It’s always complaints about texture pop-in and resolution in RAGE. Which, if you actually know anything about game engines at all, you’d know is not at all related to the game engine, but to its assets.

        So, tell me, what’s so terrible about idTech5?

        • Javier-de-Ass says:

          idtech5 is probably fine, the game itself is shit. it’s the same kind of thing people say about that engine bethesda used for elder scrolls 3-4 and fallout 3, gamebryo. it’s actually not the engine being shit, it’s all the parts bethesda made that are shit. skyrim is a “different” engine, but the game still has the exact same problems.

        • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

          That’s the thing though- the assets in RAGE weren’t that impressive really, but the way the engine handled them was terrible. I will admit that when the game looked good, it really did look good. But most of the time, I would be walking along a corridor or driving through the desert and the engine could not load textures fast enough to keep up with my movement, so I was walking over big swaths of ground that were almost a single colour, a 256×256 texture stretched to cover 200 square meters. Models wouldn’t load until you ran into them, and really, the whole thing was a mess bordering on unplayable. I eventually found some cfg tweaks to make it somewhat tolerable, but really, it was a pretty big letdown.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      I think even if id didn’t run Quakecon, people would probably still look for a successor LAN event and so the next summer you’d probably see lots of people interested in an heir con.

    • Widthwood says:

      I think this is partly tradition, partly because Carmack is still a smart and influential guy among developers.

      And the main reason – because they have the money to make their own con. If any other developer would want to throw away money like that – it would most likely be covered by media in a similar way, because… why not?

  5. XhomeB says:

    Great interview, but if I were the one asking questions and not Nathan, I’d say something along these lines, only a bit more politely:
    “Rage is widely considered id’s worst game to date, the lack of gameplay focus and atrociously linear level design were arguably its biggest flaws. Are you seeing to it that you don’t make the same mistakes twice in a row?”.

    • Fremen_Warrior66 says:

      Rage was not that bad. If it’s the worst game they ever make, they will be lucky.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, there were a lot of reused assets such as levels run backwards, and the ending was a total shambles, but it was a decent enough foil to Borderlands.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Then you sir, are an arse and that’s coming from me!

    • woodsey says:

      It was a first-person shooter with some light driving. I don’t see how it lacked “focus”. Hardly an inspiring or particularly memorable game but a million miles away from bad.

      • XhomeB says:

        I didn’t say it was bad (well, the level design was atrociously bad, the game as a whole maybe not) – I said it was the worst game they’ve made to date. Compared to Q1 and Q2 which I’m re-playing right now, Rage feels like an immense step backwards.

    • Widthwood says:

      The point of interviews is to try to learn new information, your “question” is just an insult and it is impossible to draw any useful conclusions from the answer like “we are always learning and using experience gained in past projects to develop new ones”

      Might as well just punch interviewee in the face, at least it would make a more interesting read afterwards.

      • fitzroy_doll says:

        ah, the old “reverse al-Jilani”.

      • XhomeB says:

        Hence the line “more politely”. Besides, I feel like id need a punch in the face right now, otherwise, they’ll never realize the mistakes they’re making.

  6. Simbosan says:

    Try asking them where HL3 is, you might get further

  7. Text_Fish says:

    Clearly Doom 4 has become Quake 1.5.

  8. Don Reba says:

    Me, I plan to do at least try and do some more digging. I’m getting a bit tired of snoozing through the same old script year after year.

    Sounds like a good change of activity. I myself like to chip some rocks after a day in the office.

  9. Kuranghi says:

    Tim Willits: “Trust me: I’ve asked him a lot of questions about hosting QuakeCon. I texted him, and he texted me back.”

    Sounds Legit.

    • Widthwood says:

      Why not?
      “how do u host quakecon”
      “easily”
      “k thnx”

  10. aircool says:

    How queer…. I’d just downloaded DOOM 3 this morning from steam as I fancied scaring the shit out of myself this evening. DOOM 3 is still a good game.

  11. pilouuuu says:

    They definitely have to balance Doom 4 better than Doom 3. Make the gameplay more like Doom 2, but at the same time including everything that’s great about today’s gaming, like (good) story, interesting and likeable characters and hopefully some kind of open-world. Think about being able to move back and forward between the “levels”. Like playing Doom 2, but if you got bored being able to go back to a previous level and complete that instead.

    I also miss the technological innovation id brought to the table. Doom 3 had an amazing lighting (and mostly shadowing) engine. Shame about boring plot, bad pacing and monster closets though.

    As long as they learn from their mistakes and keep faithful to Doom 2 gameplay with modern gaming innovation they can make Doom 4 the most amazing FPS game in a long time.

    • aircool says:

      The best thing about the original DOOM was its simplicity. It was just running around shooting stuff, looking for secrets, and for replay value, getting through a level as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

      DOOM 3 had some really cool stuff that I haven’t seen done so well in any other game; the atmosphere. Strange machinery that looks unpleasantly organic from certain angles… Daemonic faces etc… that are suggested in the architecture, and the computer terminals that had quite a few sub-menus that weren’t obvious when given a casual look over.

      Couldn’t be arsed with the logs, emails and videos etc…, it just ruined the pacing, but overhearing conversations was cool.

      I suppose there’s better stuff available now, but the original Bio-Shock was the last FPS I played.

      Could anyone suggest a better horror FPS than DOOM 3 (not the earlier ones, I played them to death). I’ve played Amnesia etc…, but there’s no shooting in that game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Herzog says:

        I would recommend Metro 2033. Sure it has it faults, but it still is my favorite FPS from the last years (havent played 2034 yet!). Very atmospheric and the shooting feels good too.

      • Skhalt says:

        Maybe try Quake 4? It’s not as horror-oriented but I find it a really atmospheric game.

      • Troldhawk says:

        I found the F.E.A.R. series very fun. The first has excellent gunplay. Not very scary, but gameplay wise it is amazing. The sequels are fun as well, and actually do the horror thing a bit better, but the shooting thing marginally worse, I found.

  12. KeeperKrux says:

    I wish you had been that persistent in the Prey 2 interview. That was a bit of a bummer.

  13. hotmaildidntwork says:

    Friendly service reminder to ignore obvious traps. ^

  14. rockman29 says:

    I want Doom 4 naoooooo…

    I loved Doom 3 even though everyone else hated it. Loved the art, the technology, the graphics, the animations, the environments, the gameplay, everything. I thought it was really top notch honestly, nicely balanced game.

    I used to think I felt HL2 was definitively the better game back in 2005-ish, but now I really think 2004 and 2005 were just two more great years in the history of FPS games on PC :)

    Also both are a billion times more fun and obviously better than COD4 :)

    • Widthwood says:

      Over time my memories of Doom3 were completely erased by Deadspace, Biosshock and Mass Effect (of all things), etc.
      The only thing I remember now are oily walls…

    • bstard says:

      Doom3 was terrible, since it was an abomination in the series. 1,2, all those ‘extra’ dooms all had this InYouFace attitude, the Pinko’s, the Tomato daemons, the pistol and shotgun guys, the Helllord and a background story no longer as 2 lines. That is Doom, not that BS they called part 3. I still weep for it. If 4 is anything like that I’ll drink enough to erase Id from my mind.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        ‘Hellord’ that was ‘Billy Bonfire’ man, tsk!

  15. chargen says:

    From the little you were able to extract from him, it sounds like they decided to make this a next gen console showcase title. Now they can use the power of Doom to show people what these new budget gaming PCs awesomely custom graphical powerhouses can do.

    Bethesda has been first and foremost a console developer and publisher since Morrowind. And id is dead.

    • Bull0 says:

      I guess we were reading different interviews, since the words “next gen console” didn’t appear anywhere in the one I read. You could just as easily extrapolate that “everyone at id has grown afraid of their keyboards” or “id have run out of sacrifices to the dark gods, so have ceased developing” as that it’s your hated console toys ruining the party again.

      But you know, any opportunity to shoehorn that in there… consoles aren’t as good as PCs, I think on a PC-only site we all get that…

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Yeah, makes sense I got that too from between the lines. I also got a lot of “everyone at id has grown afraid of their keyboards and id have run out of sacrifices to the dark gods, so have ceased developing”, that and puce cheddar helmets for TF2

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Really? What I got out of it was that John Carmack has quit the video game industry to pursue his full-time hobby of Sasquatch hunting and that Doom4 has been turned into a The Sims-styled monster life-adventure and storytelling game.

        The problem with “reading between the lines” and reading “what they really meant” is that you’re not actually reading anything at all; you’re projecting.

        If one goes hunting for ghosts, one will most certainly find them, whether they exist or not.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Your right, like you if I was going to make a AAA game to be relaesed in a year or so it would just be for PC and X-Box 360 and PS3.

          Also read the post directly above mine!

  16. Screamer says:

    Tim Willits: [laughs] That’s funny. No one has to worry about that.

    Why would we worry? Pacific Rim was awesome!

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      It certainly had the depth of story I traditionally expect from an id game. The 12 year old me, long since trapped inside a reservedly avoidant adult body was going bloody nuts during the screening.

  17. killmachine says:

    i don’t know but i’m pretty certain the new wolfenstein game will be the biggest flop since wolfenstein 2009. it does not have a multiplayer mode. and for a first person shooter without multiplayer, it has to offer a really amazing story and atmosphere from games like bioshock or even half-life 2.

    looking at the recent footage, the focus merely seems to be purely action oriented. sure, do some heavy marketing and people gonna buy it but where’s the long term fun with it? rtcw still is legendary for it’s multiplayer component. this is what wolfenstein is supposed to be, at least for me. the new wolf doesn’t have multiplayer at all, so i’m not getting my hopes up that much. in fact, i’m disgusted that a great game brand degenerates to just a popular brand that gets sold out.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      Wolfenstein sold about 1.3m across 360/PS3/PC as far as I can tell. Hardly a flop. Wolfenstein has also never been about multiplayer in the way Quake has- it’s a definitively single-player experience most of the time.

      • Bull0 says:

        I basically agree, but how good was Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory? <3

    • Premium User Badge

      Herzog says:

      Better no multiplayer then an abysmal like from Wolfenstein 2009. And remember Wolf3d also had no multiplayer component. :)

      To be honest , RTCW multiplayer was really awesome but I would not expect something similar again. See Wolfenstein 2009.

  18. Hardmood says:

    ID is no more impressive, tbh imo they are pretty mediocre these days in terms of gameplay and -design.
    pretty sad. willits had a nothing to say at all interview

  19. Crosmando says:

    Until consoles are capable of displaying 1000 Cyberdemons all shooting at the same time while maintaining 60fps, then a good multi-platform Doom game will never exist

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I assure you, they can. Now, the model quality and textures might not be that great…

  20. fitzroy_doll says:

    This just in: Doom 4 to be one big fully immersive VR monster closet!

  21. psyman says:

    I feel that the key to modernising DOOM without alienating fans of the originals is in 4 elements:

    1. Implement a well-written DOOM-guy/gal squad akin to Star Wars Republic Commando in 2005 with the same squad command mechanics. The benefit of this is that the player can effectively create their own mini-setpieces without scripting, and things often go wrong or not to plan which creates dynamic gameplay. As commander you can even be felled, but instruct your squad to continue holding out against enemies.

    2. Copy Republic Commando’s level layout. I have rarely in my life seen an action game with the same mission design as RC (only Mass Effect 1 comes to mind). There’s only 3 missions at ~2.5 hours each, which gives players an epic sense of accomplishment when finally reaching the end. All of the ups & downs and mayhem is in one long uninterrupted 2/2.5 hour sequence.

    3. Counter-op. Inspired by Perfect Dark, in certain areas of DOOM 4 you would take control of the enemy themselves and try to defeat the now-AI controlled DOOM guys/gals. This would give players the ability to experience flying around as a Cacodemon for example. When inevitably killed (you cannot ever defeat the entire DOOM crew) the player is transported into the body of another type of enemy.

    4. Multi-perspective camera. Why aren’t more gamers asking “why is this game 1st/3rd person”?. Why is Mass Effect only 3rd-person?. Why is CoD only 1st-person?. DOOM 4 could have certain sections of the game take place in 1st/3rd/side-scrolling/isometric/top-down view and it would be very refreshing.

    I reckon a DOOM 4 like that could be brilliant.

    • bill says:

      These days, I’m not sure any game can match the ‘wow’ factor that doom1/2 had back in the day.

      Personally I think the only way to do Doom4 would be to up the scale dramatically. They tried to make Doom3 into a smaller scale more scary game, but it didn’t really work.

      They need something on a massive scale, with huge alien vistas, weird indoor complexes, massive monsters, etc…
      But they need to make it not feel like Painkiller and Serious Sam. (though they could learn a couple of things from those).

      Weirdly, if anything, I think they should be shooting for something more like Halo (I’ve only played number 1). With huge open outdoor environments, but containing smaller indoor environments and more open play style.

  22. buteanu98 says:

    This game will be a copy of Duke Nukem Forever. It is stuck in developmnet hell and when it will be finished it will rotten shit like Dike Nukem

  23. Nintendo64games says:

    Played Doom 3 and loved it, looking forward to doom 4. Hope it will be better :)